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REPRESENTATIVE 
ACTORS. 



THE "CHANDOS CLASSICS." 



REPRESENTATIVE 
ACTORS. 



A COLLECTION OF 

CRITICISMS, ANECDOTES, PERSONAL DESCRIPTIONS, 

ETC. ETC. 



REFERRING TO MANY 

CELEBRATED BRITISH ACTORS FROM THE SIXTEENTH TO THE 
PRESENT CENTURY ; 

<58itlj $otcs, Ijfcnwrs, an& a |jort gueomtt of (Bitglisfj 



BY 
W. CLARK RUSSELL, 

EDITOR OF "THE BOOK OK AUTHORS." 



" The drama's laws the drama's patrons give ; 
And we that live to please, must please to live." 

DR. JOHNSON. 

" Let them be well used ; for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time." 

HAMLET. 



an* Neto oife: 
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO. 

1888. 



LONDON : 
WADBURY, AGNEW, & CO., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARfc 



Rv 



JAN 12 1856 




OF1 




TO 

MISS HELEN FAUCIT 

(LADY THEODORE MARTIN), 
WHOSE LOFTY CONCEPTIONS OF THE TRAGIC OR TENDER 

CHARACTERS OF SHAKSPEARE, 

HAVE IMPERISHABLY ASSOCIATED HER NAME WITH 
THE HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE HISTRIONIC ART ; 

THIS VOLUME 



WITH EVERY SENTIMENT OF ENDURING ADMIRATION. 



PREFACE. 



THE reader will not expect to find in this book a complete list 
of the actors from the early date at which it commences. 
Twenty volumes might hardly contain the memoirs of all the 
actors that have "flourished" since A.D. 1580. The inten- 
tion has been to produce a volume which the reader may dip 
into as he would into a volume of Table Talk : a volume con- 
taining many pleasant criticisms and diverting anecdotes. But 
if there be many names wanting, it is believed there will also 
be many names found which will fully bear out the character of 
the work implied by its title. Of living and recent actors, the 
information being scanty, the record must be small ; but what 
could be collected has been set down. Lovers of music will 
naturally inquire why the names of Santley and Reeves have 
been omitted from a list that includes those of Beard, Braham, 
and Bannister ; but it is for the editor, not less than the reader, 
to lament the omission, particularly when it is affirmed that 
much industry has been unavailingly exercised to do honour 
to these splendid singers. Such, however, as the book is 
with all its sins of omission upon its head it is sent forth to 
find favour among those who may not be displeased at an 
opportunity to examine without labour the traditions that lift 
our stasre above that of any other country, ancient or modern. 



SHORT NOTICE ON ENGLISH ACTING. 



IN that voluminous history of the stage published by Dibdin 
in the year 1800, the author, in dealing with the English 
Drama, descends to so remote a period as the Saxon Hep- 
tarchy, and devotes a chapter to " Conjectures concerning the 
Dramatic Art in Britain before the Norman Conquest." So 
extensive an inquiry might indeed be found necessary in a work 
treating of the stage from the days of the Flood ; but it will be 
thought enough if this brief review commences with the age 
that witnessed the production of the first piece possessing the 
requisites of a stage-play. Such a piece would mark a varia- 
tion in the hitherto invariable mode of entertaining the 
public by those quaint dialogues called Interludes, and those 
curious exhibitions called " Moralities" and " Mysteries," of 
which the indecency and profanity are hardly qualified by the 
obvious artlessness of the authors. 

The only dramatist before Shakspeare, to whom can be 
allowed anything like the genius to give help to the first feeble 
struggles of the Drama, is Christopher Marlowe. The names 
of Hoker, Sackville Lord Dorset, John Heywood (who is not 
to be confounded with his son Jasper, the writer of two hundred 
and twenty plays), Preston, and Edwards, are unfamiliar. Lyly 
is better known as the inventor of the word euphuism (which 
is as little employed as the heavy work whence it is derived 
is read), than as the author of nine colourless plays. The 
" Spanish Tragedy" of Thomas Kyd was parodied and ridiculed 
by all capable of distinguishing good sense from nonsense. 
But Marlowe claims to be considered as the poetical father of 
Shakspeare, as a writer who, though he is here and there 
turbulent and bombastic, exhibits in his performances not the 
gleams, but the hot effulgence of a brilliant genius ; and whose 



viii A Short Notice on English Acting. 

poetry, though sometimes cloying in its syrupy sweetness, is 
radiant with the lights and graces of the highest order of 
intellect. 

If there be any scruple in commencing the history of the 
English drama with Shakspeare, there can be no hesitation in 
commencing with him the history of English acting. It was 
perhaps a necessary consequence that there should be no 
great actor until he had written ; for it is hard to discover any 
part in the plays written before his time which could be filled 
by an actor with advantage to his genius. There were, indeed, 
mummers, jesters, and fools before Burbage and Alleyn; 
mummers like Scoggan, who would amuse a dinner-company by 
dressing up their fists, and making them act; jesters like 
John Heywood, who were caressed by monarchs and states- 
men ; and fools like Tarleton, who were privileged to take 
liberties which would have cost other men their heads. 1 But 
Shakspeare's demands upon the histrionic genius soon operated. 
To act well, to act so as to give tangible proportions, to give 
pulsation and passion to the fancies of the dramatist, evinced 
powers which were to prove as uncommon as the genius of the 
poet. 

The influence of Shakspeare upon the stage of his time is 
illustrated by the fact of no less than seventeen playhouses 
flourishing during his life ; of which the most important were : 
THE GLOBE, a massive structure, with the pit open to the sky, 
and in which the acting was by daylight. The scene had no 
other decoration than wrought tapestiy, which hung at some 
distance from the walls, so as to give room for entrances. 2 
THE BLACKFRIARS, which differed from the Globe by being 
roofed in, The performances here were for the most part 
during the winter. The pit audience sat upon benches ; room 
was found on the stage for the select portion of the spectators, 
including the critics. 3 THE SWAN was the most westerly o( 
the theatres, standing close to the water's edge. THE 
FORTUNE, which stood in Golden Lane, was built by Alleyn, 
the player, at a cost of 5607., about the year 1600. In 1621 



1 Tarleton, however, must be mentioned with respect. He was inimi- 
table in such parts as Launcelot in the " Merchant of Venice," and Touch- 
stone in "As You Like It." Baker in his Chronicles says, that "for the 
clown's part he never had his equal, and never will have." 

2 Schlegel. 3 Charles Knight's Shakspeare. 



A Short Notice on Engtish Acting. ix 

the interior was destroyed by fire ; it was reconstructed, and 
the company continued to perform there until 1648. The 
ground on which the Fortune stood was previously occu- 
pied by a building used as a nursery for the children of 
Henry VIII. The editor of the " Londina Illustrata," who 
surveyed these premises in 1818 or 1819, found the floor of 
the upper gallery still remaining, with the marks where the 
seats were fixed. The abrupt declination of this flooring 
puzzled him to conjecture how it was possible to place any 
furniture upon it ; yet the difficulty had been overcome by the 
needy lodgers who congregated in the edifice ; for he found 
" that they do by some means contrive to accommodate their 
wretched beds, &c., to their situation, though it is certainly 
like living on a flight of stairs." THE RED BULL was a large 
house, standing on a plot of ground called Red Bull Yard, near 
the northern end of St. John's Street, Clerkenwell. According 
to tradition, this was the house at which Shakspeare held 
gentlemen's horses for hire. It was here, too, that Cox, 
during the Civil Wars, when the drama was suppressed, re- 
presented his Drolls. THE WHITEFRIARS was a small, ancient 
structure, standing just out of Fleet Street. The company that 
acted here was called the Prince's Servants. THE COCKPIT 
was situated in Drury Lane. It was attacked and demolished 
by a crowd consisting of many thousands ; was rebuilt, and 
was one of the houses that escaped the fury of the fanatics in 
1648. THE ROSE was built before 1598, being mentioned by 
Taylor, the water-poet. The proprietor was Philip Henslowe, 
and the players were called the Lord Admiral's Servants. 
Here were produced the dramas of Marlowe. In 1613, the 
house was closed ; but the period of its demolition is unknown. 
The remaining theatres were : THE HOPE, in Southwark ; 
THE CROSS KEYS, in Gracechurch Street ; THE TUNS; THE 
THEATRE; THE CURTAIN; THE NURSERY, in Barbican; THE 
PLAY-HOUSE, in Salisbury Court ; and two others. 

Accustomed as we are now to scenic illustrations, to gorgeous 
costumes, to the golden and silvern splendours of a really high 
order of decorative art, it is perhaps difficult to repress a smile 
at the simplicity of the Elizabethan public, who could accept 
a square of tapestry, or even of coarse canvas, as a fairly 
illusive substitute for such sumptuous or simple scenery as the 
drama might demand. But the movement of the reflective 
mind is rather to admiration than to merriment ; for assuming, 



x A Short Notice on English Acting. 

as we may, that our ancestors were not more to be cozened in 
what they saw than ourselves, we are lost in wonder at the 
excellent genius of the players, to have so wrought upon the 
fancies and passions of the spectator as to make his own 
imagination furnish the scenery, and supply the services of the 
property-man. 

The Shakspearian theatre was indeed the school for great 
actors. On the naked stage, unaided by the adventitious help 
which, having long encroached upon the art of the player, has 
in our own day become the chief, and often the sole attraction 
of the playhouse, the actor of those times was taught to rely 
upon his own performance for all the effect the spectacle was 
to produce. If it was a formidable, it was an efficacious test 
of his capacity. We should know what to think of an actor 
who, from a bare platform, d/essed in his every-day habiliments, 
by the mere force of his gesture and his declamation of the 
language of Hamlet or Coriolanus, transports us (with a closer 
identification of our feelings with the spot, than were we 
confronted with the highest triumphs of pictorial skill) to the 
solemn scenery of Elsinore, or to the busy market-place of 
ancient Rome. 

To the hypothesis of the greatness of the players of that 
period it may be objected that the dramatic art was in its 
infancy ; and that as there were no precedents from which to 
filch the materials with which greatness is reared, their per- 
formances must have been rude, exaggerated, and exuberant ; 
that the audiences they were called upon to please were 
wholly destitute of critical taste, demonstrated by their capacity 
for enjoying the monstrous absurdities of their " mysteries," 
and the awkward fooling of their courtyard mimes. But if 
dramatic history proves anything at all, it proves that pre- 
cedents are not necessary to good acting. The numerous 
schools which have been formed, and which have been shown 
inadequate by the easy manner in which they have been ex- 
ploded, all point to this. Betterton's school was exploded by 
Garrick. Spranger Barry's school was exploded by Kemble. 
Kemble's school was exploded by Kean. The very term 
school, indeed, illustrates a deficience, for Nature has no school. 
Yet in speaking of schools of acting let us be careful to dis- 
criminate between the founders and their imitators. When we 
smile at the school of Betterton and Quin, we certainly do not 
smile at the greatest Hamlet and Falstaff of their age, but at 



A Short Notice on English Acting. xi 

the mouthing, paving, solemn race of coxcombs that tried to re- 
produce them : at Mossop's gasp ; at Macklin's tediousness ; at 
Davis's mumbling ; and at Sheridan's ponderosity of movement. 
Every testimony of his period concurs in proving Kemble a 
great actor ; yet were it possible for any actor of the day to 
embody in his personations the traditions of Kemble's excel- 
lences the majestic stalk, the classic severity, the black- 
browed frown of the noble Roman, would it be easy to con- 
ceive any spectacle more likely to move our mirth, or provoke 
our contempt ? 

But to revert to our earlier actors : it has been said that 
Burbage, who was the original Richard ///., Lowin the first 
1 Jam let and Henry VIII., and Kempe, who was inimitable in 
the clown's parts, as much surpassed the school of Hart, Lacy, 
and Mohun, as that school surpassed that of Betterton. To 
judge from what has been written of him, Richard Burbage 
was the greatest actor the English stage has ever known, 
except Garrick. " He is a man famous as our English 
Roscius," said the Earl of Southampton, " one who fitteth the 
action to the word, the word to the action, most admirably." 
Sir Richard Baker pronounced him such, as an actor " as no 
age must ever look to see the like." Alleyn takes rank after 
Burbage. Ben Jonson celebrated him as possessing at once 
the eloquence of Roscius and the gravity of ^Esop. He was 
called by Heywood the best of players, and was commended 
by Fuller for his sweet elocution, and the stateliness of his port 
and aspect. Taylor was also another great actor ; and the 
genius of Lowin, Kempe, Condel, Mason, Hemmings, and 
Field, has been recorded by every writer on the Shakspearian 
theatre. Whether, then, we question the superiority of Hart 
and Lacy over Betterton and Quin, we are compelled to accept 
the superiority of Burbage and Alleyn over Hart and his fellows ; 
nay, to feel convinced in this, we have only to remember that 
this very school of Burbage, acted under the eye and inspira- 
tion of Shakspeare, the creator of those astonishing characters 
in which they excelled. 1 



- It need not be doubted that Shakspeare instructed the actors in his 
plays, for Chetwood in his " History of the Stage," quotes an author who 
wrote about the year 1720, to the effect that he remembered " having seen 
Mr. Taylor of the Black-Friars Play-House act this part i.e., Hamlet (wto 
was instructed by the author^ 



xii A Short Notice on English Acting. 

No reign was ever more propitious to the dramatic art than 
that of Elizabeth. Many causes conspired to refine and 
exalt the standard of our national tastes and manners. The 
nations were beginning to recognise an empire populated by a 
race who, with the hardiness, the bravery, and the honesty of the 
North, combined the sympathies, the tenderness, and the graces 
of the South. The age of chivalry in England, heightened by the 
homage exacted by Elizabeth, and held to be due both by the 
sovereign and the subject not more to the monarch than the 
woman, was at its meridian. Philosophy, purified from the 
cobwebs of the schools, was dictating eternal laws to the world 
from an English throne. Poetry was idealizing the conceptions 
of a rough and sturdy time by giving sweetness and delicacj 
to the rude traditions of the heroic ages. In that reign the 
history of the Drama in England commences, for from that 
reign it drew its splendid inspirations, its lofty chivalry, its 
chaste and exquisite conceptions of womanhood, its tone of 
easy, high-bred, courtierly dignity. To the year 1647 the 
history of the stage presents such a spectacle as the heavens 
thick-strown with stars, with one great orb shining in sovereign 
splendour amid them all. But there came a change. Charles I. 
was a fugitive, or a martyr. The Puritans were piloting the 
State. Praise-God-Barebones and his confreres, judging the 
theatre to be lewd and iniquitous, issued ordinances by which 
all stage-plays were absolutely forbidden; stages, seats, and 
galleries were ordered to be pulled down, and the players to be 
punished as rogues and vagabonds. In addition to this the 
money received at the doors of such theatres as might escape 
the enactment was ordered to be given to the poor of the 
parish, together with a fine of five shillings on every spectator 
of a play. 1 

The players finding their occupation gone took arms in the 
Royal cause. To that cause they were probably impelled less 
from sympathy with their suffering king than from hatred of 
his persecutors, who were also their own. Mohun, a famous 
actor, of whom little is known but the tradition of his greatness, 



1 I would refer the reader who might desire more infonnation on this 
subject to the short but exhaustive essay, The History of the Theatre 
during its Suppression, in Disraeli's " Curiosities of Literature," a book 
which he will probably have at hand. Those who desire a more elaborate 
review will turn to Malone or Dibdin. 



A Short Notice on English Acting. xiii 

had command of a company and was made a major. Hart, an 
eminent tragedian and an early lover of Nell Gwynne, had a 
troop of horse in Prince Rupert's regiment. Burt, who though 
a good actor voluntarily yielded to the superior powers of 
Hart, was a cornet in the same troop. Allen, of the Cockpit, 
was a quartermaster-general. A large number of the actors 
fell in defence of Royalism ; the few that survived contrived to 
get possession of the Cockpit, where they acted by stealth. 
For a time they were undisturbed, but information being 
given against them, they were broken in on whilst acting 
a piece called " The Bloody Brother," and carried to Hatton 
House, detained during a mock trial, stripped and turned 
loose, thankful for having escaped with their ears. Some of 
them now made shift to earn a living by shopkeeping. Others 
printed old editions of plays, which were purchased by those 
who sympathized with the king's cause and lamented the mis- 
fortunes of his adherents. Some starved and died. But 
another change was at hand. The restoration of Charles II. 
was the restoration of the players. The nation, long oppressed 
by the fanatical rule of the Puritans, now that the nasal chant 
was stilled and the cropped head low, clamoured for amuse- 
ment The Cockpit was taken and peopled. So was the Red 
Bull. And with this was inaugurated a new epoch of theatrical 
entertainments. 

No monarch ever seemed to favour more the conditions 
under which the stage might reach a brilliant maturity than 
Charles II. He had dramatists for his friends, actresses for 
his mistresses, and players for his companions. He was con- 
stant in his attendance at the theatres. Gratitude made no 
portion of this king's character, or it might be thought his 
advocacy of the theatre was in recognition of the services 
the actors had rendered his father. His advocacy might have 
done good had the stage been moral ; but the stage being im- 
moral it did incalculable harm. It may be safely asserted that 
no reign was ever more unpropitious to the drama than that of 
Charles II. In its vaulting ambition to be happy our country 
overleaped itself. It encouraged all kinds and degrees of 
vice from the Continent under the impression that it was 
trafficking in pleasure. The stage, true to its vocation, became 
the mirror of the general depravity. Impurities were liberally 
bandied. The foul satyr leered through every scene. Women 
mockingly vizarded themselves to conceal the only blushes 



xiv A Short Notice on English Acting. 

their cheeks could exhibit that of the paint-pot. The pious, 
with a horror that was quite genuine, ran to and fro with 
lifted hands and white eyeballs. It was not enough that 
Wycherley, Mrs. Behn, Dryden, Sedley, and Davenant were 
writing for the public pollution ; females were now supplying the 
place of boys; and the most wanton, the most corrupt, the 
most unspeakable sentiments were being musically lilted by 
the red lips of beautiful women. 1 The " tiring-room" was little 
better than an infamous house where Moll Common was to 
be seen preparing potions for rival courtezans to insure the 
disgust of royalty, and where Doll Tearsheet was to be heaid 
swearing at Sir Plume or Sir Fopling, for not giving her more 
pieces. 

In English comedy little purity is discernible before the time 
of the elder Colman. Gibber, the last of the wits of the 
Stuart epoch, repeats the obscene song of the comic muse, 
though the equivocal lies rather in the situations than in the 
sentiments of his plays. From Colman dates a succession of 
performances, which while they are irreproachable enough in 
their morals, taken collectively, may fairly compare in wit with 
the best comedies of the Restoration. 

Acting, from the time of Burbage and Lowin, may be said to 
have undergone almost as many transitions as the drama. 
Those who would seek an illustration of these changes might 
probably find them in a series of representative plays from 
Shakspeare to our own time. The stately splendour, the god-like 
morality, the massive dignity, the profound philosophy of the 
Shakspearian drama, would indicate with curious felicity, if we 
may credit what has been told of Burbage and his brethren, 
the characteristics of its early exponents. The sparkle, the 
pertness, the licentiousness of the dramatists of the Stuart 
epoch will present us with the qualities of the school of 
Hart and Lacy. Coming to Quin and his imitators, we find 





1 It is almost impossible to believe that any woman could have been 
found to publicly pronounce some of the language that is to be read in the 
plays of Dryden and Wycherley. Yet among the actresses in these and 
even worse dramas the reputations of some have been handed down to us as 
unimpeachable. Such was Mrs. Betterton ; such was Mrs. Bracegirdle. 
Later on, when the licensing of plays came in vogue, a fine was levied 
upon any actor or actress giving utterance to an immoral sentence. 
Among the first who were mulcted for this offence were Betterton and 
Mrs. Bracegirdle. 



A Short Notice on English Acting. xv 

their acting represented by those solemn, drowsy tragedies to 
which are subscribed the names of Addison, Banks, Fcnton, 
Rowe, Phillips, and others. The genius of the school of Weston 
and Edwin will be found in the brocaded humour of the 
Colmans, and the stern merriment of such writers as Boaden 
and Kelly. And coming to our own time, we will find the 
decay of the artificial comedy to indicate a school of actors 
whose naturalness will not always exempt them from the charge 
of occasional vulgarity. 

Dibdin closes his bulky volumes with the name of Garrick, 
whose praises he sounds with an energy which carries his 
language into the dark regions of hyperbole. Writing earlier than 
1800, Dibdin had seen Kemble, Cooke, and Henderson; but 
the brilliant maturity of Edmund Kean he had not seen. Not 
for Kemble, nor Cooke, nor Kean, is it probable, or is it to be 
wished, that Dibdin would have dispossessed Garrick of his 
throne ; yet I suspect had he witnessed the remarkable flux of 
talent that followed the decay of the Garrick school of actors he 
would have abated the enthusiasm, or at least qualified the praise 
with which he deals with the names of his contemporaries. 
There were giants no doubt in the days of Garrick ; actors and 
actresses who present a perfect milky-way across the patined 
vault of the dramatic heavens. Yet let us think on those who 
followed. With the Garrick era there was undoubtedly high 
art : but through the eras that followed, if we find less art, we 
find more nature. In no way is this better illustrated than by 
the direction taken by the genius of these actors. They were 
most of them comedians capable indeed of the highest tragic 
flight, but inclining towards comedy as the best reflection 
of the life lived by the men and women who make up our 
world. They overturned the ponderous tragedies which had 
absorbed the energies of the Garrick school : they abandoned 
the scowl, the gasp, the start, the stalk, and the gurgle, the 
paving gesture and the theatrical air for the smiles or frowns, 
the actions and the attitudes of real people. With the last of 
the Garrick school with old Bensley, for instance, in spite of 
Lamb's praise may be said to have died the survivor of a line 
of traditional puppets who, " with all the contortions of the 
sibyl, had little or nothing of the inspiration."* 



Burke. 



REPRESENTATIVE ACTORS. 



Richard Tarleton. 

1530-1588. 

TARLETON was an actor at the Bull in Bishopsgate-street, and 
performed originally in the play of " Henry V.," from which 
Shakspeare is supposed to have collected the materials for his 
play under the same title. When Elizabeth, at the solicitation 
of Sir Francis Walsingham, appointed a dozen players to per- 
form at Barn-Elms, allowing them wages and liveries as 
grooms of the chamber, Tarleton was made a sort of manager. 
An old author says, " That for the clown's part he never had 
his equal." Even Ben Jonson, who libels actors, could not 
refrain from applauding Tarleton. Indeed by all accounts his 
humour was of an irresistible kind I suppose something like 
that of Weston for we are told that " the self-same words 
spoken by another would hardly move a merry man to smile, 
which uttered by him would force a sad soul to laughter." 
Tarleton for some time kept a tavern in Paternoster-row, and 
afterwards the sign of the Tabor in Gracechurch-street, where 
his humour operated as such an attraction that it was common 
to have his portraits as a sign. Oldys 1 says " that there was a 
sign in the Borough of a man playing on the pipe and tabor 
with the name of Tarleton written under it, and that this portrait 
was a copy of a wooden print which was published at the head 



1 William Oldys, the antiquary, born 1696, diet! 1761. D'Israeli has 
written an account of him in the "Curiosities of Literature." Francis 
Grose, in his "Olio," a work full of keen humour and sharp satire, has 
also given his life. "lie was a little mean-looking man," he says, "of a 
vulgar address, and when I knew him, rarely sober in the afternoon, never 
alter supper." ED. 



2 Edward Alleyne 

of a work called ' Tarleton's Jests.' " Dibdiris " History of the 
Stager 

He was a celebrated actor and jester, and was born at An- 
dover in Shropshire. He was the author of a dramatic per- 
formance called " The Seven Deadly Sins ;" and many of his 
witticisms have been printed in different jest-books. Universal 
Biography. 

Tarleton's nose was flattened by a blow which he received 
whilst parting some dogs and bears. This misfortune he 
turned into merriment by noticing that it did not affect him, 
tor that he had still sagacity enough to smell a knave from an 
honest man. Dramatic Anecdotes. 

Richard Tarleton, for the clown's part, never had his match 
nor ever will have. 1 Baker's Chronicles. 

Edward Alleyne. 
1565-1626. 

He was a youth of excellent capacity, a cheerful temper, a 
tenacious memory, a sweet elocution, and in his person, of a 
stately port and aspect. Fuller. 

If Rome so great and in her wisest age 
Feared not to boast the glories of her stage, 
A skilful Roscius and great ^Esop, men 
Yet crown'd with honours as with riches then, 
Who had no less a trumpet to the-ir name 
Than Cicero, whose very breath was fame j 
How can so great example die in me, 
That, Alleyne, I should pause to publish thee ? 



1 Among the characters in our old plays a fool frequently occurs. The 
terms clown and fool.were (however improperly) used as synonymous by our 
early writers ; but although the fool of our old plays denoted either a mere 
natural, or else a witty hireling or artificial fool, retained for the purpose of 
making sport for his employers, the clown was certainly a perfectly distinct 
character, and one of much greater variety. A fool generally formed part 
of the establishment of every nobleman in the i6th century, and indeed 
much later. The stage costume of the fool is not exactly known, but it 
most probably closely resembled that used in common life i.e., along cloak 
or petticoat, originally worn by the idiot or natural fool, and intended for 
purposes of concealment and cleanliness. It was of various colours, and 
the materials were often costly, as of velvet, and fringed with yellow. 
i&story of the Theatres, 1823. 



Edward Alteyne. 3 

Who, both their graces in thyself hast more 
Outstript than they did all who went before ; 
And present worth in all dost so contract, 
As others spake, but only thou dost act ; 
Wear this renown. Jjen Jonson. 

Edward Allen, the munificent founder of Dulwich College, 
was a player, and the sole proprietor of his own theatre, which 
he built from the ground, and this man could not be worth less 
than 25,ooo/., a sum then equal to ioo,ooo/. in our days, and 
not inferior, upon that account, to Mr. Garrick's fortune. T. 
Davies. 

Alleyne's fortune proceeded no doubt from marrying three 
wives, each of whom brought a handsome fortune, partly from 
the success of his theatre, partly from his being keeper of the 
King's wild beasts, and master of the Royal Bear Garden, and 
partly from his being a most rigid and penurious economist, 
which character he so strictly enjoined himself, that he was the 
first pensioner in his own charity. C. Dibdin. 

Alleyne united the very best works with a very sincere but 
unostentatious faith. His biography is to be read in the 
memorials of his yet existing and most bountiful charities : in 
St. Botolph's where he was born, in Cripplegate, St. Luke's, 
St. Saviour's (or St. Mary Overy, Southwark, as it was then 
called), where he had laboured untiringly and reaped fortune 
handsomely, helping many a poorer colleague the while. He 
founded almshouses, where for two centuries and a half old 
and infirm people, whose numbers would now make a total of 
many hundreds, have been indebted to the forethought spring- 
ing from the gratitude of this noble actor, for all that can add 
comfort to declining years. But his noblest work of all was 
the founding of Dulwich College, as an asylum for the aged 
and a place of education for orphans. This foundation was 
made and completed in Alleyne's lifetime; he did not wait 
to order it to be done by his heirs ; and he immediately called 
it " God's Gift College," intimating thereby that he was only 
the steward of the fortune which had been gathered by his 
industry. Cornhill Magazine, 1867. 



B a 



4 

Richard Burbage. 1 
1566-1619. 

He was the admir'd example of the age, 

And so observ'd all your dramatic laws, 

He ne'er went off the stage but with applause. 

Who his spectators and his auditors 

Led in such silent chains of eyes and ears, 

As none, whilst he on the stage his part did play, 

Had power to speak or look another way. Flecknoe. 

Astronomers and star-gazers this year, 
Write but of four eclipses five appear ; 
Death interposing Burbage, and their staying, 
Hath made a visible eclipse of playing. Middleton. 

Excellencv in the meanest things deserves encouragement. 
Richard Buroage and Edward Allen : two such actors as no 
age must ever look to see the like. Baker's Chronicles. 

He is a man famous as our English Roscius j one who fitteth 
the action to the word, the word to the action, most admirably. 
Earl of Southampton. 

Burbage, the great actor of Shakspeare's principal characters, 
we are told was so eminent in his profession that no country 
gentleman thought himself qualified for conversation without 
having an acquaintance with Dick Burbage. T. Davies. 

If we may believe some authorities, and there is no reason 
to doubt them, Burbage was not only a great painter of living 
portraits upon the stage, but a limner of dead ones upon 
canvas ; he was an artist as an actor, and attained considerable 
skill as a delineator of likenesses in oil colours. Payne Collier. 



1 About the other actors of this period little information is to be gathered. 
Lowin, Hemmings, Condel, Fletcher, Mason, Field, Taylor, and others 
were all eminent in their various walks. Marlowe, in his preface to the 
"Jew of Malta," writes that "Mr. Mason and Mr. Taylor performed theil 
parts with that excellence that it was beyond conceiving." But of most of 
these actors the traditions are vague and the memorials confused, and all 
that we may really be said to know of them is that they were men whose 
genius rendered them worthy to fill those lofty parts which were then being 
written. ED. 



Robert Cox. 
1580-1648. 

As meanly as you may now think of these Drolls, they were 
then acted by the best comedians, and I may say by some 
that then exceeded all now living ; the incomparable Robert 
Cox, who was not only the principal actor, but also the 
contriver and author of most of these farces. How have I 
heard him cried up for his yohn Swabber and Simpleton the 
Smith) in which, lie being to appear with a large piece of bread 
and 1 Hitter, I have frequently known several of the female 
spectators and auditors to long for it; and once that well- 
known natural Jack Adams of Clerkcnwdl, seeing him with 
bread and butter on the stage, and knowing him, cried out, 
" Cuz ! Cuz ! give me some !" to the great pleasure of the 
audience. And so naturally did he act the smith's part, that 
being at a fair in a country town, and that farce being pre- 
sented, the only master smith of the town came to him, saying, 
" Well, although your father speaks so ill of you, yet when the 
fair is done, if you will come and work with me, I will give 
you twelvepence a week more than I give any other journey- 
man." Thus was he taken for a smith bred, that was indeed 
as much of any trade. F. Kirkman^ " The Wits" 1672. 

At this epoch (i.e. during the suppression of the theatres by 
the Puritans) a great comic genius, Robert Cox, invented a 
peculiar sort of dramatic exhibition, suited to the necessities 
of the time short pieces which he mixed with other amuse- 
ments, that these might disguise the acting. It was under the 
pretence of rope-dancing that he filled the Red Bull playhouse, 
which was a large one, with such a confluence, that as many 
went back for want of room as entered. The dramatic con- 
trivance consisted of a combination of the richest comic scenes 8 
into one piece, from Shakspeare, Marston, Shirley, &c., con- 



1 Kirkman was an obscure author, who is said to have mutilated twenty- 
seven plays from Shakspeare, Jonson, and others. ED. 

2 This collection by Kirkman has a view of the interior of the Red Bull 
Theatre, as a frontispiece, which is very curious and valuable. It re- 
presents a stage on which are seven figures, who perform before a numbel 
of people, some of whom sit in a kind of boxes, the rest in rows like persons 
seated at a dinner-table. The figures on the stage are I, Sir John Falstaff 
habited in the costume in which we are accustomed to see him, but very 



6 Thomas PIcyivood. 

cealed under some taking title ; and these pieces of plays were 
called " Humours," or " Drolleries." . . . There are however some 
original pieces by Cox himself, which were the most popular 
favourites, being characters created by himself, for himself, 
from ancient farces : such were " The Humours of John 
Swabber," " Simpleton the Smith," &c. This Cox was the 
delight of the city, the country, and the universities ; assisted 
by the greatest actors of the time, expelled from the theatre, 
it was he who still preserved alive, as it were by stealth, the 
suppressed spirit of the drama. Isaac D' Israeli. 

Cox had very slender pretensions to be considered as an 
author, his whole merit having consisted in raking diverting 
circumstances from various plays, and forming them into farces 
and drolls ; which being a good actor, he was well qualified to 
do. History of the Stage. 

Thomas Hey wood. 
Circa 1590-1645. 

A dramatic writer and actor in the reigns of Elizabeth, 
James I., and Charles I. He is said to have been a most 
voluminous author, having written no less than two hundred 
plays, of which only twenty- four are extant. Neither the date 
of his birth nor that of his death are on record. Universal 
Biography. 

Mr. Thomas Heywood was not only an excellent actor, but 
a very great author and dramatic poet. I have read all his 
works that are extant, and in my poor judgment, he may be 
accounted the first of the second-ranked poets in the reigns of 
Queen Elizabeth and King James I. Several modern authors 
have borrowed from Mr. He^wodL I shall only mention two, 
Shadwell in his " Lancashire Witches," and Fielding in his 
"Intriguing Chambermaid." ChetwoocCs ''History of the Stage' 



much thinner than what he is now made to be; 2, Dame Quickly; 3, 
Clause, from Beaumont and Fletcher's "Beggar's Bush;" 4, the French 
dancing-master from Lord Newcastle's comedy called "Variety;" and 5 
and 6, characters from pieces written by Cox himself. There is a figure 
stepping from behind a curtain pronouncing the words "Tu quoque," 
meant lor Green, a celebrated comedian of the time, highly praised by 
Heywood in his preface to the comedy called " Tu quoque, " written by Cook, 
but called, by reason of Green's fine acting, "Green's Tu-quoque." ED. 



Thomas Killigrew. 7 

This man, by some of the biographers, has been greatly ex- 
tolled as a writer without any great appearance, however, of 
either truth or justice ; for the prodigious quantity he wrote, for 
which he ransacked the ancients without mercy, whatever might 
have been his real merit had he taken time to correct and 
polish his works, rendered it impossible for him to turn any- 
thing out of hand likely to secure him a solid reputation ; and 
thus we have a list of twenty-four pieces, out of two hundred 
and twenty which lie himself says he either wrote or was con- 
cerned in, little more known at this moment than by their 
titles. Heywood was certainly a good classical scholar, and as 
an actor he was pretty celebrated. Indeed, the pursuing this 
occupation, and his being perpetually in company (for we are 
ridiculously told he wrote his plays upon the backs of tavern 
bills), must have left him but little opportunity to complete the 
difficult task, of writing plays, especially such an immense 
number as are attributed to him. C. Dibdin. 

Thomas Killigrew. 1 
1611-1685. 

Thomas Killigrew was born in 1611, was page to Charles I., 
and accompanied the Prince of Wales into exile. During his 
absence from England he visited France, Italy, and Spain, and 
after the Restoration, was appointed by the new king (with 
whom he was a great favourite) one of his grooms of the bed- 
chamber. A vein of lively pleasantry, combined with a certain 
oddity, both of person and manner, placed him high in the 
good graces of Charles II., who would frequently allow him 
free access to his person, when characters of the first dignity in 
the State were refused it ; till Killigrew became almost the in- 
separable companion of his monarch's familiar hours. This 
was the Killigrew that obtained the appellation of "King 
Charles's jester ;" but though he was undoubtedly a mirth- 
creating spirit, his clever dramatic pieces discover few traces of 
that facetiousness and whim which one imagines he must have 
actually possessed. Universal Biography. 

He was a man of very droll make, and had an uncommon 



1 Frequent mention of Tom Killigrew is made in Pepys's " Diary," but I 
can find nothing illustrative of his character or his wit to quote. ED. 



8 Thomas Killigrew. 

vein of humour, with which he used to divert that merry 
monarch, Charles II., who on that account was fonder of him 
than of his best Ministers, and would give him access to his 
presence, when he denied it to them. It was usually said of 
him that when he attempted to write, he was nothing near so 
smart as he was in conversation. Dr. Carry. 

Thomas Killigrew, commonly known by the name of King 
Charles's jester, produced ten plays. They were principally 
written for his amusement when he was abroad, and not, as it 
was generally imagined, as manager of his own theatre, for it is 
pretty clear that he never had one. The history of Killigrew, 
and that he followed Charles II. in exile and returned with 
him, that he was groom of the bed-chamber and continued in 
high favour with the King and had access to him when he 
denied himself to the first characters in the kingdom, is per- 
fectly well drawn. He had such lively parts, and was a man 
of such eccentric and peculiar humour, that he was a perfect 
counterpart to Charles ; and, having been admitted to habits 
of freedom and familiarity during their residence abroad, he 
was suffered to go sometimes to most unwarrantable lengths in 
the liberties he took. There is a story told that he came to 
the King dressed like a pilgrim, and being asked where he was 
going, answered, " To fetch Oliver Cromwell from hell to take 
care of the affairs of the nation, for that his successor took no 
care at all of them." C. Dibdin. 

The jester Killigrew frequently had access to Charles II. 
when admission was denied to the first peers in the realm. 
Charles, who hated business as much as he loved pleasure, 
often disappointed the council either by not attending or with- 
drawing before the business was concluded. One day the council 
sat a considerable time in expectation of his Majesty, when 
the Duke of Lauderdale, so distinguished for his haughty de- 
meanour, quitted the room in a great passion. On his way he 
met Killigrew, to whom he expressed himself more freely than 
courteously respecting his master. Killigrew bade his grace be 
calm, for he would lay a wager of a hundred pounds that he 
would make his Majesty attend the council in less than half an 
hour. Lauderdale took him at his word, and Killigrew, getting 
immediate admission to the King, told him all that had hap- 
pened, adding, " I know your Majesty hates Lauderdale, though 
the necessity of your Majesty's affairs obliges you to receive 
him ; now if you wish to get rid of a man you hate, come to the 



Edivard Kynaston. 9 

council, for I^iuderdale is a man so boundlessly avaricious that 
r.nhcr than pay the wager, he will hang himself and never plague 
you more." The King laughed at the observation and attended 
the council. Percy Anecdotes. 

Edward Kynaston. 
1619-1687. 

We hear of Kynaston, the last beautiful youth who figured 
in petticoats on the stage, having been carried about in his 
theatrical dress by ladies of fashion in their carriages. This 
was an unseemly spectacle, and we can forgive the Puritans 
for objecting to see " men in women's clothing." T. Campbell. 

Aug. 1 8. Captain Ferrers took me and Creed to the 
Cockpitt play, the first that I have had time to see since my 
coming from sea. "The Loyall Subject," where one Kinaston, 
a boy, acted the Duke's sister, but made the loveliest lady 
that ever I saw in my life. Jan. 7. Tom and I and my 
wife to the theatre, and there saw the " Silent Woman." 
Among other things here Kinaston, the boy, had the good turn 
to appear in three shapes ; first, as a poor woman in ordinary 
clothes to please Morose; then in fine clothes as a gallant, 
and in them was clearly the prettiest woman in the whole house; 
and lastly, as a man, and then likewise did appear the hand- 
somest man in the whole house. Pepys's "Z>iary." 1 

Though women were not admitted to the stage till the return 
of King Charles, yet it could not be so suddenly supplied with 
them but that there was still a necessity, for some time, to put 
the handsomest young men into petticoats which Kynaston was 
then said to have worn with success, particularly in the part of 
Evadne in the " Maid's Tragedy," which I have heard him 
speak of; and which calls to niy mind a ridiculous distress that 



1 Pepys is frequent in his eulogies of one Mistress Knipp, an actress of 
whom I can find no other mention. A note to the " Diary" says, "Of Mrs. 
Knipp's history nothing seems known, except that she was a married actress 
belonging to the King's House, and as late as 1677 her name occurs among 
the performers in the 'Wily False One.'" In 1667, on the I2th of Feb- 
ruary, Mr. Pepys went by coach to hear some Italian music. Here he 
met Killigrew, a page of honour to Charles I., who when a boy "would go 
to the Red Bull, and when the man cried to the boys, ' who will go and be 
a devil, and he shall see the play for nothing ?' then would he go in, and be 
a devil upon the stage, and so get to see plays." He had a chat with Kil- 



io Edward Kynaston. 

arose from these sort of shifts which the stage was then put to. 
The King coming a little before his usual time to a tragedy, 
found the actors not ready to begin, when his Majesty, not 
choosing to have as- much patience as his good subjects, sent 
to them to know the meaning of it, upon which the master of 
the company came to the box, and, rightly judging that the 
best excuse for their default would be the true one, fairly told 
his Majesty that the queen was not shaved yet ; the King, 
whose good humour loved to laugh at a jest as well as to make 
one, accepted the excuse, which served to divert him till the 
male queen could be effeminated. In a word, Kynaston at that 
time was so beautiful a youth that the ladies of quality prided 
themselves in taking him with them in their coaches to Hyde 
Park in his theatrical habit, after the play ; which in those days 
they might have sufficient time to do, because plays then were 
used to begin at four o'clock, the hour that people of the same 
rank are now going to dinner. Of this truth I had the curiosity 
to inquire, and had it confirmed from his own mouth, in his 
advanced age ; and indeed to the last of him his handsomeness 
was very little abated ; even at past sixty his teeth were sound, 
white, and even as one could wish to see in a reigning toast of 
twenty. He had something of a formal gravity in his mien, 
which was attributed to the stately step he had been so early 
confined to, in a female decency. But even that, in characters 
of superiority, had its proper graces ; it misbecame him not in 
the part of Leon, in Fletcher's "Rule a Wife," &c., which he 
executed with a determined manliness and honest authority 
well worth the best actor's imitation. He had a piercing eye, 
and in characters of heroic life, a quick, imperious vivacity in 
his tone of voice, that painted the tyrant truly terrible. There 
were two plays of Dryden, in which he shone with uncommon 
lustre in " Aurengzebe " he played Morat, and in " Don 
Sebastian " Muley Moloch; in both these parts he had a fierce 

ligrew, who told him "that Knipp is like to make the best actor that ever 
come upon the stage, she understanding so well, that they are going to give 
her thirty pounds a year more." Kil ligrew further boasted "that by his 
pains the stage is a thousand times better and more glorious than heretofore. 
Now wax candles, and many of them, then not above 3lbs. of tallow ; no-w- 
all things civil, no rudeness anywhere ; then as in a bear-garden ; then two 
or three fiddlers, now nine or ten of the best ; then nothing but rushes 
upon the ground, and everything else mean ; now all otherwise ; then the 
Queen seldom, and the King never would come ; now, not the King only 
f x state, but all civil people do think they may come as well as any. " 



John Lacey. i \ 

lion-like majesty in his port and utterance, that gave the spec- 
tators a kind of trembling admiration. Colley Cibber. 

Kynaston, who performed the parts of women in his youth, 1 
of lovers in his maturer age, and of genteel old men later in 
life, is said not only to have possessed a grace and an ease that 
nothing ever surpassed, but to have thrown a peculiar dignity into 

rything he performed. We are told that, though Benetton 
and Kynaston both observed the rules of truth and nature, 
they were each as different in their acting as in their form or 
features. This we know is requisite, and this particular dis- 
crimination seems to have made up a great part of the excellent 
acting of that time. C. Dibdin. 

John Lacey. 
1622-1681. 

John Lacey, a dramatic writer, was born at Doncaster, and 
bred a dancing-master; this employment he quitted for the 
army, but subsequently took to the stage, and acquired such 
ability as a comedian that Charles II. had his portrait painted 
in three different characters. He wrote the comedies of the 
" Dumb Lady," " Sir Hercules Buffoon," " Old Troop," and 
"Sawney the Scot." Universal Biography. 

A comedian whose abilities in action were sufficiently known 
to all that frequented the King's Theatre, where he was for 
many years an actor, and performed all parts that he undertook 

1 All accounts exhibit Kynaston as the most celebrated actor of women's 
parts of his day. It was not until after the Restoration that women per- 
formed on the stage. They were introduced by Sir William Davenant at 
his theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1662. The play was the " Siege of 
Rhodes," in which Mrs. Saunderson, the first female actress that ever 
played for hire before the public in England, took the part of the heroine. 
In 1593, one Dr. Reynolds had published a foaming invective against stage- 
plays, in which he vigorously attacked the sin of boys wearing the dress, 
and affecting the airs of women ; yet Tom Nash, in his " Pierce Pennilesse," 
applauds the English stage for not having courtezans or women-actors (the 
definition is his), as they have abroad. D'Israeli attributes the change less 
to an improved taste than to necessity ; "for," he says, " the boys who had 
been trained to act female characters before the Rebellion, during the sus- 
pension of the theatre (by the Puritans), had grown too masculine to resume 
their tender office at the Restoration." This innovation of actresses, pro- 
nounced an indecorum, though copiously apologized for, grew speedily 
popular, so much so indeed, that before long plays were represented of 
which the cast consisted wholly of women. ED. 



12 Mrs. Better ton. 

to a miracle, insomuch that I am apt to believe, that as this 
age never had, so the next never will have, his equal at least 
not his superior. He was so well approved of by King 
Charles II., an undeniable judge in dramatick arts, that he 
caused his picture to be drawn in three several figures in the 
same table viz., That of league in the "Committee," Mr. 
Scruple in " The Cheats," and M. Galliard in " The Variety," 
which piece is still in being in Windsor Castle. Nor did his 
talents wholly lie in acting : he knew both how to judge and ' 
write plays ; and if his comedies are somewhat allied to French 
farces, it is out of choice rather than want of ability to write true 
comedy. Gerard Langbaine. 

To the King's House and there saw the " Taming of the 
Shrew,". . . . and best part Sawny done by Lacey. To the King's 
Playhouse and saw " Love in a Maze ;" but a sorry play, only 
Lacey's clown part which he did most admirably indeed. To 
the King's House to see " Horace ;" this is the third day of its 
acting \ a silly tragedy, but Lacey hath made a farce of several 
dances, between each act, one ; but his words are but silly, and 
invention not extraordinary as to the dances. To the Royal 
Theatre, and there saw " The Committee," a merry but 
indifferent play, only Lacey's part, an Irish footman, is beyond 
imagination. .Ftfys's " Diary" 

Mrs. BettertOiL 
. . . .-1712. 

Though far advanced in years, she was still so great an 
actress that even the famous Mrs. Barry, who acted Lady Mac- 
beth after her, could not in that part, with all her superior 
strength and melody of voice, throw out those quick and care- 
less tones of terror which the other gave, with a facility in her 
manner that rendered her at once tremendous and delightful. 
Time could not impair her skill though it gave her person to 
decay. She was to the last the admiration of all true judges of 
nature and lovers of Shakspeare, in whose plays she chiefly 
excelled, and without a rival. She was the faithful companion 
of her husband and his fellow-labourer for five-and-forty years, 
and was a woman of unblemished and sober life. Colley Gibber. 

Mrs. Betterton was remarkable for performing the female 
characters of Shakspeare to a greater degree of excellence than 



Better ton. 13 

any other actress before or since, which exhibits a most sti iking 
proof that she must have been critically a judge of nature, for 
though many of them are purposely underwritten because they 
were performed in Shakspeare's time by men, yet there is a 
feminine truth and beauty in them more winning than all we 
find in those overcharged characters which, in some of the 
more modern tragedies a mode we have borrowed from the 
French seem to have all the conduct of the piece. The fact 
is, that when women came to grace the stage, the authors were 
so delighted with this pleasurable and advantageous circum- 
stance, that they did not know how to husband it, but as much 
overshot the mark as their predecessors had come short of it. 
It is related of Mrs. Betterton that, though Lady Macbeth had 
been frequently well performed, no actress, not even Mrs. 
Uarry, could in the smallest degree be compared to her. Her 
judgment as an actress is said to have been so consummate 
that no female performer^ succeeded who did not imitate her, 
or failed who did. C. Dibdin. 

It is not positively certain, but it is extremely probable that 
the earliest regular actress of the English stage was a Mrs. 
Saunderson, afterwards Mrs. Betterton, 1 the wife of the famous 
actor. At all events, if not the earliest, she was the greatest 
actress for many years after the Restoration. Thomas Camp- 
bell. 

Thomas Betterton. 
1635-1710. 

March i, 1660. To White-friars, and saw "The Bondman" 
acted ; an excellent play and well done ; but above all that 
ever I saw, Betterton do the Bondman best May 28, 1663. 
By water to the Royal Theatre ; but that was so full they told 
us we could have no room. And so to the Duke's House ; and 
there saw "Hamlet" done, giving us fresh reason never to 
think enough of Betterton. Pepys' s "Diary" 

Betterton, although his countenance was ruddy and sanguine, 
when he performed Hamlet, through the sudden and violent 
emotion of amazement and horror at the presence of his 

1 She is called lanthe by Pepys in his "Diary," as having performed fanl/u 
in Davcnant's play of the "Siege of Rhodes." Apparently Pepys greatly 
admired her, praising her sweet voice and her "incomparable acting" 
wherever he mentions her. ED. 



1 4 Thomas Better ton. 

father's spectre, instantly turned as white as his neckcloth, 
while Ids whole body seemed to be affected with a strong 
tremor ; had his father's apparition actually risen before 
him he could not have been seized with more real agonies. 
This struck the spectators so forcibly that they felt a shudder- 
ing in their veins, and participated in the astonishment and the 
horror so apparent in the actor. Davies, in his " Dramatic Mis- 
cellanies," records this fact; and in the " Richardsoniana" we 
find that the first time Booth attempted the ghost when Betterton 
acted Hamlet, that actor's look at times struck him with such 
horror that he became disconcerted to such a degree that he 
could not speak his part. 1 Here seems no want of evidence 
of the force of the ideal presence in this marvellous acting ; 
these facts might deserve a philosophical investigation. Isaac 
D } Israeli, " Curiosities of Liter atxr;" 

Boswell : " If Betterton and Foote were to walk into this 
room, you would respect Betterton much more than Foote." 
Johnson : " If Betterton were to walk into this room with 
Foote, Foote would soon drive him out of it. Foote, sir, 
quateniis Foote, has powers superior to them all." Life of 
Johnson. 

Such an actor as Mr. Betterton ought to be recorded with 
the same respect as Roscius among the Romans. I have 
hardly a notion that any performer of antiquity could surpass 
the action of Mr. Betterton in any of the occasions in which he 
has appeared upon our stage. The wonderful agony which 
he appeared in when he examined the circumstance of the 
handkerchief in the part of Othello, the mixture of love that 
mtruded upon his mind upon the innocent answers Desdemona 
makes, betrayed in his gesture such a variety and vicissitude 
of passions as would admonish a man to be afraid of his own 
heart, and perfectly convince him that it is to stab it to admit 
that worst of daggers jealousy. Whoever reads in his closet 
this admirable scene will find that he cannot (except he has as 
warm an imagination as Shakspeare himself) find any but dry, 
incoherent, and broken sentences. But a reader that has seen 
Betterton act it observes there could not be a word 



1 A similar story is told by Chetwood of Wilks, who, acting in "The 
Maid's Tragedy" with Betterton, was so much struck by the actor's dignity, 
that he could hardly speak. Betterton, remarking his confusion, said, 
' ' Young man, this fear does not ill become you a horse that sets out at 
the strength of his speed will soon be jaded." ED. 



Thomas Be tier ton. \ 5 

added, that longer speeches had been unnatural, nay, im 
'le, in Othello's circumstances. This is such a triumph 
over difficulties that we feel almost persuaded that the defi- 
ciencies themselves contributed to the success. Addison. 

Mr. Betterton, although a superlative good actor, laboured 
under an ill figure, 1 being clumsily made, having a great head, 
short thick neck, stooped in the shoulders, and had fat short 
arms which he rarely lifted higher than his stomach. His left 
hand frequently lodged in his breast, between his coat and 
waistcoat, while with his right he prepared his speech. His 
actions were few but just. He had little eyes and a broad 
face, a little pock-bitten, a corpulent body, with thick legs and 
large feet. He was better to meet than to follow, for his 
aspect was serious, venerable, and majestic in his latter time a 
little paralytic. His voice was low and grumbling; yet he 
could tune it by an artful climax which enforced universal 
attention even from the fops and orange-girls. He was in- 
capable of dancing even in a country dance, as was Mrs. 
Barry, but their good qualities were more than equal to their 
deficiencies. Anthony Aston 's* " Brief Supplement" 

You may have seen a Hamlet perhaps who on the first ap- 
pearance of his father's spirit has thrown himself into all the 
straining vociferation requisite to express rage and fury ; and 
the house has thundered applause, though the misguided actor 
all the while was tearing a passion into rags. The late Mr. 
Addison, whilst I sate by him to see this scene acted, made the 

1 -Colley Gibber, on the other hand, says that Betterton's person was 
suitable to his voice " more manly than sweet, not exceeding the middle 
stature, inclining to be corpulent, of a serious and penetrating aspect, his 
limbs nearer the athletic than the delicate proportion, yet however formed, 
there arose from the harmony of the whole a commanding mien of majesty 
which the fairer-faced, or as Shakspeare calls them, the curled darlings of 
his time, ever wanted something to be equal masters of." 

2 This man, it has been said contemptuously, "known by the name of 
Tony Aston, was a very curious character. He was an attorney, and turned 
actor, and being determined to follow the profession in its primitive style, he 
resorted to all the principal towns in England with a performance he called 
his medley, which was a farrago taken frdm different plays. His company 
consisted of himself, his wife, and his son. He was very dexterous in the 
exertion of his legal abilities, which was frequently called forth in defence 
of his monopolizing towns, and he got such a character this way, and was 
supposed to understand the spirit of the old laws respecting public exhibi- 
tionr, so well, that he was permitted to speak his sentiments on a bill pending 
at that time in the House of Commons, for the regulation of the stage. " 
He died 1753- Chetwood has written a memoir of him. 



16 Thomas Better ton. 

same observation, asking me with some surprise if I thought 
Hamlet should be in so violent a passion with the ghost, which, 
though it might have astonished, had not provoked him. For 
you may observe that in this beautiful speech the passion 
never rises beyond an almost breathless astonishment, or an 
impatience limited only by filial reverence to inquire into the 
suspected wrongs that may have r aised him from his peaceful 
tomb, and a desire to know what a spirit so seemingly dis- 
tressed might wish or enjoin a sorrowful son to execute 
towards his future quiet in the grave. This was the light into 
which iBetterton threw this scene, which he opened with a 
pause of mute amazement, then rising slowly to a solemn, 
trembling voice, he made the ghost equally terrible to the 
spectators as to himself, and in the descriptive part of the 
natural emotions which the ghostly vision gave him, the bold- 
ness of his expostulation was still governed by decency, manly, 
but not braving his voice never rising into that seeming 
outrage or wild defiance of what he naturally revered. Colley 
Gibber. 

Betterton was the greatest actor the English stage ever 
possessed, with the exception perhaps of the more versatile 
Garrick. Almost incredible accounts remain to us of the 
effects produced by his performances. The magnetic influence 
of tone and expression seemed to mesmerize an audience, and 
make them the followers of his slightest intonation. Almost 
without speaking he could let them into the workings of his 
mind and anticipate his next motion, as if it arose from their 
own volition. '-Blackwood's Magazine, 1861. 

Pepys does not speak much of Betterton, the chief performer 
at the Portugal-street Play house. 1 The reason must be either 



1 Portugal-street, running parallel with the south side of Lincoln's Inn 
Fields, is the site of Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, sometimes styled the 
" Duke's Theatre." The back or north front of it opened upon the south 
side of Lincoln's Inn, then Portugal Row, on the site of the Museum of the 
College of Surgeons. This theatre, which was built after a design by Sir 
C. Wren, was opened in the spring of 1662 under a patent granted to Sir 
William Davenant. Jesses "London." Headers of theatrical history are 
generally led to conclude that there was only one theatre in the Lincoln's 
Inn quarter ; but this is a mistake. There were at least two successive 
houses in two different places, though usually confounded under the title oi 
the "theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields." The first was in Gibbon's tennis- 
court, in Vere-street, Clare-market. Hunt's " Town" The other was the 
f"" referred to by Jesse. ED. 



77iomas Better; 17 

chat Jk-tlerlon pl.i)nl <],Mly in tragedy, or that his comic 
t.ik-nt (which is probable) was not equal to his tragic. He 
was the great actor of his time, as Garrick was of the last 
century, and Mr. Kean lately. His most admired character 

appears to have been that of Hamlet Betterton died old and 

poor, rather, it should seem from misfortune than from im- 
prudence. The actors in those times, though much admired, 
were not rewarded as they have been since, nor received any- 
thing like the modern salaries. His death is said to have been 
hastened by tampering with the gout, in order to perform on 
his benefit night. His person was rather manly than graceful 
He was a good-natured man, and, like Moliere, would perform 
when he was ill rather than hinder the profits of his brother- 
actors. At Caen Wood, Hampstead, the seat of Lord Mans- 
field, there is a portrait of him by Pope, who was an amateur 
in painting. They became acquainted when the latter was 
young and the actor old, and took such a liking to one 
another that Pope is supposed to have had a hand in a 
volume of pieces from Chaucer, purporting to have been 
modernized by Belterton. Leigh hunt, " The Town!' 

The son of Charles I.'s cook was, for fifty-one years, the 
pride of the English theatre. His acting was witnessed by 
more than one old contemporary of Shakspeare the poet's 
younger brother being among them he surviving till shortly 
after the accession of Charles II. ; and a few of Bet- 
terton's younger fellow-actors lived to speak of his great 
glory to eld stagers who were loquacious in the early days of 
elderly men yet paying scot and lot among us. 1 The frozen- 
out actors warmed into life and laughter again beneath the 
sunshine of his presence. His dignity, his marvellous talent, 
his versatility, his imperishable fame, are all well known and 
acknowledged. His industry is indicated by the fact that he 



1 In 1709 Mrs. Bracegirdle and Mrs. Barry played in " Love for Love" at 
Drury Lane, for Betterton's benefit. He stood forward, and whilst the fol- 
lowing epilogue was spoken by Mrs. Barry, the two actresses clasped him 
round the waist : 

" .... So we, to former leagues of friendship true, 
Have bid once more our peaceful homes adieu, 
To aid Old Thomas, and to pleasure you. 
Like errant damsels, boldly we engage, 
Arm'd, as you see, for the defenceless stage. 
Time was when this good man no help did lack, 
And scorn'd that any she should hold his back. 
C 



1 8 Thomas Better ton. 

created one hundred and thirty new characters ! Among them 
were Jaffier and Valentine, three Virginiuses, and Sir John 
Brute. He was as mirthful in Falstaff as he was majestic in 
Alexander ; and the craft of his Ulysses, the grace and passion 
of his Hamlet, the terrible force of his Othello, were not more 
remarkable than the low comedy of his Old Bachelor, the 
airiness of his Woodville, or the cowardly bluster of his Ther- 
sites. The old actors who had been frozen out, and the new 
who had much to learn, could not have rallied round a more 
noble or a w'orthier chief ; for Betterton was not a greater actor 
than he was a true and honourable gentleman. Only for him 
the old frozen- outs would have fared but badly. He enriched 
himself and them, and, as long as he lived, gave dignity to his 
profession. The humble lad, born in Tothill-street, before 
monarchy and the stage went down, had a royal funeral in 
Westminster Abbey, after dying in harness almost in sight of 
the lamps. He deserved no less, for he was the king of an art 
which had well-nigh perished in the Commonwealth times, and 
he was a monarch who probably has never since had, alto- 
gether, his equal. Off, as on the stage, he was exemplary in 
his bearing ; true to every duty ; as good a country-gentleman 
on his farm in Berkshire as he was perfect actor in town ; 
pursuing with his excellent wife the even tenor of his way \ 
not tempted by the vices of his time, not disturbed by its 
politics ; not tippling like Underhill, not plotting and betray- 
ing the plotters against William, like Goodman, nor carrying 
letters for a costly fee between London and St. Germains, like 
Scudamore. If there had been a leading player on the stage 
in 1647, with the qualities, public and private, which distin- 
guished Betterton, there perhaps would have been a less severe 



But now, so age and frailty have ordained, 

By two at once he's forced to be sustain'd. 

You see what failing nature brings man to, 

And yet, let none insult ; for aught we know, 

She may not wear so well with some of you. 

Though old, you'll find his strength is not yet pass'd, 

But true as steel, he's metal to the last. 

If better he perform'd in days of yore, 

Yet now he gives you all that's in his power, 

What can the youngest of you all do more ?" &c. 

Betterton was then 74 years old. (See Rowe's Poems, Johnson's ed. 
p. 45.) ED. 



jfoscph Ashbury. 19 

ordinance than that which inflicted so much misery on the 
" (Yo/cn-out actors." Cornhill Magazine, 1862. 

Th civ aiv so many vouchers for the merit of this extra- 
ordinary actor that there would be no great difficulty in ascer- 
taining or risk in asserting precisely what they were. I must 
content myself with saying that it has been unanimously 
allowed, his mental and personal qualifications for the stage 
were correct to perfection, and that, after a variety of argu- 
ments to prove this, we are obliged to confess that he appears 
never to have been on the stage' for a single moment the actor 
but the character he performed. Dibdin* 

Joseph Ashbury. 
1638-1720. 

This worthy gentleman was born in London, the year 1638, 
of an ancient family. His father married a near relation of 
that great scholar and soldier Sir Walter Raleigh, who was first 
gentleman to that Duke of Buckingham that was killed by 
Lieutenant Felton in the reign of King Charles I. The 
gentleman I am about to give an account of was sent very 
young to Eton School, near Windsor, where he received a 
genteel education, being very well instructed in classical 
learning. After the death of his father, his friends procured 
him a pair of colours in the army under the Duke of Ormond, 
which was the first time of his coming into this kingdom 
(Ireland) in the last year of Oliver Cromwell's administration. 
Mr. Ashbury was one of the number of officers that seized the 
castle of Dublin when Governor Jones was made prisoner, 
and secured in behalf of King Charles II. He was made 
lieutenant of foot of a company granted by that monarch to 



1 In a note appended to this passage, Dibdin speaks of having in his 
fouth been acquainted with old Steed, who had been many years prompter 
of Covent Garden Theatre. From Steed, Dibdin derived much information 
respecting the actors of a long- preceding epoch. It is remarkable that 
Steed, who had seen Betterton perform, though he allowed him all the 
merits praised by Gibber, affirmed that, ' ' taking everything into considera- 
tion, he was by no means equal to Garrick." Steed's authority imparts to 
Dibdin's criticisms on bygone actors a value which they would not have, 
were they based only on the testimonies of Gibber, Steele, and other ccn 
temporary writers. ED. 

c a 



2O Joseph Ashbury. 

the city of Dublin, in the year 1660 and 1662; the Duke of 
Ormond, the then lord lieutenant, made him one of the gentle- 
men of his retinue, and deputy-master of the Revels under 
John Ogilbey, Esq., some time after. In the year 1682, at the 
death of the Master of the Revels, through Mr. Ashbury's 
interest with the Duke of Ormond, he was made Patentee, and 
Master of the Revels in this kingdom (Ireland). His first wife 
was sister to an eminent actor of that time, Mr. Richards, by 
whom he had two children, who died in their infancy ; and 
the mother of them being a very infirm woman, was not long 
after the death of her second child before she left the world. 
Mr. Ashbury continued a widower many years, till fixing his 
eyes upon Miss Darling. By this lady he had two sons. 
Mr. Ashbury was not only the principal actor in his time, 
but the best teacher of the rudiments of that science in the 
three kingdoms. I speak not from my own judgment, but 
that of many others, as Mr. Wilks, Mr. Booth, Mr. Keene, 
&c. Mr. Ashbury succeeded Mr. Darling as steward of the 
King's Inns, a post of good profit. I had not the pleasure of 
knowing this great man but till the latter part of his life ; yet 
notwithstanding his great age, I have seen him perform several 
parts with the utmost satisfaction, and though at his years it 
could not be expected the fire of youth and vigour should 
blaze out, yet truth and nature might be seen in a just light 
His person was of an advantageous height, well-proportioned, and 
manly, and, notwithstanding his great age, erect ; a countenance 
that demanded a reverential awe ; a full and meaning eye, 
piercing though not in its full lustre. I have seen him acquit 
himself in the part of Careless, in " The Committee," so well 
that his years never struck upon remembrance. And his 
person, figure, and manner in Don Quixote were inimitable. 
The use of a short cloak in former fashions on the stage seemed 
habitual to him, and in comedy he seemed to wear it in 
imagination, which often produced action, though not ungrace- 
ful, particular and odd to many of the audience. This great 
man was Master of the Revels to five monarchs of England 
viz., King Charles II., King James II., King William, Queen 
Anne, and King George I. Chetwood's ''-History of the Stage" 






21 



Joseph Haines. 
1638 1701. 

The anecdotes related of this facetious comedian are innu 
merable. Among those which are not so generally known is 
the following, extracted from a work containing memoirs of his 
life, dated 1701. Some idea of the character of the famous 
ti.i^rdian Hart may be also gathered from it: 

"About this time (1673) tnere happened a small pique 
between Mr. Hart and Joe, upon the account of his late nego- 
tiation in France, and there spending the company's money to 
so little purpose, or, as I may properly say, to no purpose at 
all. There happened to be one night a play called " Cataline's 
Conspiracy," wherein there was wanting a great number of 
senators. Now Mr. Hart, being chief of the house, would 
oblige Joe to dress for one of these senators, although his 
salary, being fifty shillings a week, freed him from any such 
obligation. But Mr. Hart, as I said before, being sole governor 
of the playhouse, and at a small variance with Joe, commands 
it, and the other must obey. Joe being vexed at the slight 
Mr. Hart had put upon him, found out this method of being 
revenged upon him. He gets a scaramouch dress, a large full 
ruff, makes himself whiskers from ear to ear, puts on a long 
merry Andrew's cap, a short pipe in his mouth, a little three- 
legged stool in his hand, and in this manner follows Mr. Hart 
on the stage, sets himself down behind him, and begins to 
smoke his pipe, laugh and point at him, which comical figure 
put all the house in an uproar, some laughing, some clapping, 
and some hallooing. Now Mr. Hart, as those who knew him 
can aver, was a man of that exactness and grandeur on the 
stage, that let what would happen, he'd never discompose him- 
self or mind anything but what he then represented, and had a 
scene fallen behind him, he would not at that time look back 
to see what was the matter ; which Joe knowing, remained still 
smoaking ; the audience continued laughing ; Mr. Hart acting 
*nd wondering at this unusual occasion of their mirth some- 
times thinking it some disturbance in the house ; again, that it 
might be something amiss in his dress. At last, turning him- 
self towards the scenes, he discovered Joe in the aforesaid 
posture ; whereupon he immediately goes off the stage, swear- 



22 Eleanor Gwynne. 

ing he would never set foot on it again unless Joe was immedi 
ately turned out of doors ; which wag no sooner spoke than put 
in practice." 1 -./?. Wewitzer's " Dramatic Remains? 

Eleanor Gwynne. 
1642-1691. 

To the King's House, and there saw the " Humorous Lieu 
tenant," a silly play, I think ; only the spirit in it that grows 
very tall and then sinks again to nothing, having two heads 
breeding upon one ; and then Knipp's singing did please us. 
Here in a box above we spied Mrs. Pierce, and going out they 
called us, and so we staid for them, and Knipp took us all in, and 
brought to us Nelly, a most pretty woman, who acted the great 
part Ccelia to-day very fine, and did it pretty well ; I kissed her, 
and so did my wife, and a mighty pretty soul she is. Pepys? 

Guin, 3 the indiscreetest and wildest creature that ever was in 



1 In other parts of this work I have called attention to the extraordinary 
liberties taken with their audiences by actors. This joke of Haines, how- 
ever, is mild compared to what was once done at a Dublin theatre. Peg 
Woffington was acting "Lear" with Garrick ; in the part where the old King 
recovers from his delirium, and sleeps with his head on Cordelia's lap, a 
gentleman came forward from behind the scenes and threw his arms around 
Peg's waist. This affront, which a modern audience would probably have 
resented by destroying the interior of the theatre, seemed rather to entertain 
the Dublin public. ED. 

2 From Pepys's entries a fair idea of Nell's histrionic powers may be 
gathered. In 1666, he tells us that he saw a comical part done by Nell, 
"which is Florimel, that I never can hope to see the like done again by 
man or woman." This is on the 2nd of March; but on the yth, he dis- 
covers that, as a dancer, Moll Davies is infinitely superior to Nell. On the 
25th he sees Nell again, so acting "a merry part," "as cannot be better 
done in nature." In April, 1667, he "saw pretty Nelly standing at her 
lodgings' door in Drury-lane, in her smock sleeves and bodice, looking 
upon one ; she seemed a mighty pretty creature." In October, he went 
into the " tireing-room" of the King's House, and saw Nell dressing herself 
Knipp was with her. " But Lord !" he cries, "to see how they were both 
painted, would make a man mad, and did make me loathe them." "But 
to see how Nell cursed for having so few people in the pit, was strange. " 
In mad parts he finds her "beyond all imitation," but he finds fault with 
her in tragedy, and more fault with her in modesty. "Lord, her confidence !" 
he exclaims, as she comes off the stage in boy's clothes, surrounded by men ; 
whilst another time, he spies the jade Nell in an upper box, "a bold, 
merry slut, who lay laughing there upon people." ED. 

3 Thus spelt by Burnet in the edition of his " History of My Own Times" 
before me. In the different portraits mentioned by Granger, she is thus 



Eleanor Gwynne. 23 

a Court, continued to the end of the King's life in great favour, 
and was maintained at a vast expense. The Duke of Bucking- 
ham told me that when she was first brought to the King, she 
asked only five hundred pounds a year, and the King refused 
it. But when he told me this about four years after, he said 
she had got of the King above sixty thousand pounds. She 
acted all persons in so lively a manner, and was such a constant 
diversion to the King, that even a new mistress could not drive 
lu-r away. But after all, he never treated her with the decencies 
of a mistress. 1 liunid. 

The orange basket her fair arm did suit, 

Laden with pippins and Hesperian fruit ; 

This first step raised, to the wond'ring pit she sold 

The lovely fruit, smiling with streaks of gold. 

Fate now for her did its whole force engage, 

And from the pit she mounted to the stage ; 

There in full lustre did her glories shine, 

And long eclips'd, spread forth their light divine : 

There Hart and Rowley's soul she did ensnare, 

And made a king a rival to a player. Rochester. 

Whilst we may safely reject as unfounded gossip many of the 
stories associated with the name of Nell Gwynne, we cannot 
refuse belief to the various proofs of kind-heartedness, liberality, 
and taking into consideration her subsequent power to do 
harm absolute goodness of a woman mingling (if we may 
believe a passage in Pepys) from her earliest years in the most 
depraved scenes of a most dissolute age. The life of Nell 
Gwynne, from the time of her connexion with Charles II., 
to that of her death, proved that error had been forced upon 
her by circumstances, rather than indulged from choice. 
Douglas Jerrold. 



described : Madam Eleanora Gwynn ; Madam Eleanor Gwynn ; Madame 
Ellen Gwynn ; Madam Ellen Gwin ; Mrs. Ellen Gwynn. Moll Davies, 
frequently mentioned by Pepys, was for some time Nell's rival with the 
King. She was comedian in the Duke of York's Theatre. She had one 
daughter by Charles named Mary, who took the surname of Tudor, and 
was in 1687 married to the son of Sir Francis Ratcliffe, who became Earl 
of Derwentwater. When the King turned her off, he settled a pension upon 
her of a thousand pounds a year. It is said that he fell i ft love with her on 
hearing her sing the ballad of " My lodging is on the co).i ground." ED. 

1 That true gentleman, Eielyn, is bitter against "3 Irs. Nellie, as they 
called an impudent comedian " See his "Memoirs." 



24 Eleanor Gwynne. 

Nelly, who was called the " poor man's friend " was literally 
a general favourite, and not undeservedly ; for bred as she had 
been, as an orange-girl, amidst the haunts of dissipation, vice 
was more her destiny than her blame. She was really a good- 
hearted woman, and in the days of her prosperity showed her- 
self grateful to her old friends, among whom she had the 
honour of ranking Otway and Dryden. She was faithful to the 
King, never pestered him about politics, and was never the 
creature of Ministers. Once when Charles had ordered an ex- 
travagant service of plate, as a present to the Duchess of 
Portsmouth, from a jeweller in Cheapside, an immense crowd 
collected about the shop, cursing the Duchess, and wishing 
that the plate were melted .and poured down her throat. But 
they added, "What a pity it should not be bestowed on Madam 
Ellen !" The mistaken tradition of Ellen Gwynne founding 
Chelsea Hospital probably arose from her character of benevo- 
lence, as well as from her frequently visiting Chelsea, where 
her mother lived many years, and where the old woman died, 
in consequence of falling one day into the Thames, when look- 
ing out of her window. What had made her top-heavy is not 
recorded. Thomas Campbell. 

I have seen in my time at least fifty portraits of Nell Gwynne, 
of all sizes and complexions, black, brown, and fair. It may 
be well to inform the proprietors of these soi-disant Nell 
Gwynnes, that the real Nell Gwynne (and we know but of one) 
was a little, sprightly, fair-haired woman, with laughing blue 
eyes ; round, but beautiful face, and a turned-up nose. I have 
met but with one portrait answering this description, and 
having therefore some pretensions to authenticity. It is in the 
possession of General Grosvenor, and is the original of the 
well-known print by Thane. New Monthly Magazine, I826. 1 

She was low in stature, and what the French call mignonne and 
piquante, well-formed, handsome, but red-haired, and rather 



1 The "initiated" will not require to be told the reason of my copious 
transcriptions from the early numbers of the New Monthly Magazine. But 
there are others who might demand a reason ; to them I reply, that among 
the contributors to that magazine during the years in which it will be found 
quoted, were Theodore Hook, Thomas Hood, Judge Talfourd, Hazlitt, 
Charles Lamb, Poole, the author of "Paul Pry," O'Keefe, the "Stage 
Veteran," Leigh Hunt, Thomas Campbell, Cyrus Redding, and many others 
whose names are intimately associated with the dramatic literature of their 
time. ED. 



Eleanor Gwynne. 25 

embonpoint; of the enjoue she was a complete mistress. Airy, 
fantastic, and sprightly, she sang, danced, and was exactly made 
for acting light, showy characters, filling them up, as far as they 
went, most effectually. On the front of Bagnigge Wells, one 
of her country houses, where she entertained the King with 
concerts, there was a bust of her, and though it was wretchedly 
executed, it confirmed the correctness of Lely's pencil. She 
had remarkably lively eyes, but so small they were almost in- 
visible when she laughed ; and a foot, the least of any woman 
in England. The Manager's Note-Book. 

Poor Nell Gwynne, in a quarrel with one of the Marshalls, 
who reproached her with b.eing the mistress of Lord Buck- 
hurst, said she was mistress but of one man at a time, though 
she had been brought up in a bad house, " to fill strong waters 
to the gentlemen;" whereas her rebuker, though a clergyman's 
daughter, was the mistress of three. This celebrated actress, 
who was as excellent in certain giddy parts of comedy as she 
was inferior in tragedy, was small of person, but very pretty, 
with a good-humoured face, and eyes that winked when she 
laughed. She is the ancestress of the ducal family of St. 
Albans, who are thought to have retained more of the look and 
complexion of Charles II. than any other of his descendants. 
Beauclerc, Johnson's friend, was like him ; and the black com- 
plexion is still in vigour. The King recommended her to his 
brother with his last breath, begging him not to let poor Nelly 
starve. Burnet says she was first introduced to the King by Buck- 
ingham to supplant the Duchess of Cleveland ; but others tell us 
he first noticed her in consequence of a hat of the circumference 
of a coach-wheel, in which Dryden made her deliver a prologue, 
as a set-off to an enormous hat of Pistol's at the other house, 
and which convulsed the spectators with laughter. If Nelly 
retained a habit of swearing, which was probably taught . her 
when a child (and it is clear enough from Pepys that she did), 
the poets did not discourage her. One of her epilogues by 
Dryden began in the following startling manner : 

" Hold, are you mad, you d , confounded dog? 
I am to rise and speak the epilogue !" 

Leigh Hunt, " The Town* 



26 

Thomas Britton. 

1650-1714. 
(The Musical Small-coal Man.) 

It had always been a custom to entertain companies at 
private houses with minstrelsy, but music in parts being now 
brought to great perfection, concerts were set forward, to no 
great effect however, till a man of the name of Britton, a most 
singular instance of natural endowment, who attained to per- 
fection in everything he studied, and who seems to have had a 
most scientific mind, established, under very forbidding circum- 
stances, a regular concert. This Britton, a small-coal man, in 
an obscure part of the town, in a room without ornament or 
accommodation, and more like a prison than a receptacle for 
decent auditors, attracted all the fashion of the age, who 
flocked regularly every week to taste a delight of which the 
English were now so particularly fond that it was considered 
as vulgar then not to have attended Britton's concert as it 
would be now not to have heard Banti. C. Dibdin. 

The eccentric Thomas Britton, better known by the name of 
the " Musical Small-coal Man," though living in an old and 
ruinous house in Aylesbury-street, Clerkenwell, attracted as 
polite an audience to his concerts as ever frequented the 
opera. The ceiling of the room in which his concert was 
held was so low that a tall man could scarcely stand erect 
in it, the staircase was outside the house, and could scarcely 
be ascended without crawling ; yet ladies of the first rank in 
the kingdom forgot the difficulty with which they ascended the 
steps in the pleasure of Britton's concert, which was attended 
by the most distinguished professors. Of the origin of 
Britton's concert, we have a~n account written by a near 
neighbour of his, the facetious Ned Ward, the author of the 
" London Spy," and many doggrel verses, who at that time 
kept a public-house in Clerkenwell. In one of his publications, 
entitled " Satirical Reflections on Clubs," he has bestowed a 
whole chapter on the Small-coal man's club. He says, " The 
club was first begun, or at least confirmed, by Sir Roger 
L'Estrange, a very musical gentleman, who had a tolerable per- 
fection on the bass viol." Ward further says, " that the 
attachment of Sir Roger and other ingenious gentlemen, lovers 



William MouhtforcL 2 7 

of the muses, to Britton, arose from the profound regard he 
had in general to all manner of literature ; that the prudence 
of his deportment to his betters procured him great respect ; 
and that men of the greatest wit, as well as some of the highest 
quality, honoured his musical society with their company." 
Britton was indeed so much distinguished that when passing 
along the streets in his blue linen frock, and with his sack of 
small-coal on his back, he was frequently accosted with such 
expressions as these : "There goes the famous small-coal in m, 
who is a lover of learning, a performer of music, and a com- 
panion for gentlemen." 1'crcy AnccJotcs. 

William Mountford. 1 
1660-1692. 

The characters supported by Mountford pertain almost 
altogether to an obsolete theatrical repertory. He flourished 
in days when the ranting tragedies of Nat Lee, the jingling 
plays of Dryden, the ribald comedies of Mrs. Behn, Etherege, 
and others, held firm possession of the stage. In Mountford's 
list of characters appears Macduff, played probably to the 
Macbeth of Betterton ; but there is no evidence of his having 
sustained any other Shaksperian part. His most important 
tragic characters seem to have been Alexander and Castalio 
in Otway's tragedy of the " Orphan." Gibber highly applauds 



1 Mountford was murdered by Captain Hill. The actor used to 
Alexander to Mrs. Bracegirdle's Statira, which made Hill, who was 
Bracegirdle's unaccepted lover, jealous. The Captain and Lord Mohun 
having failed to abduct Mrs. Bracegirdle, Hill swore he would be revenged 
on Mountford. He met him in the street, and boxed the actor's ear. 
Mountlbrd, with an oath, demanded to know "what that was for?" Upon 
this (according to Mountford's dying statement), Hill drew his sword and 
ran it through the actor's body. Hill fled ; Lord Mohun, who was con- 
cerned, was tried for his life, but acquitted on insufficient evidence. A full 
account of this broil will be found in Leigh Hunt's "Town." 

In the "Records of a Stage Veteran" is the following: "It was remembered 
by old actors as a tradition current sixty years ago, that the motive for the 
murder of Mountford was not jealousy of Mrs. Bracegirdle's attachment to 
him, but revenge for his having gained and betrayed the affections of a lady 
of exceedingly high rank in this country, and that one of the children whom 
Mrs. Mountford brought up as her own, was in fact the fruits of the amour 
in question. That child was living in 1730, yet Cibber, who speaks at 
length of Mountford, docs not allude to it. " ED. 



28 Mrs. Anne Bracegirdle. 

his Sparkish, in Wycherley's " Country Wife," as an evidence 
of the variety of his genius. In this part he is said to have 
entirely changed himself, and at once thrown off the man of 
sense for the brisk, vain, rude, and lively coxcomb, the false, 
flashy pretender to wit, and the dupe of his own sufficiency. 
His excellence in Sir Courtly Nice^ in Crowne's comedy of that 
name, is reputed to have been still greater. Dutton Cook. 

Mountford has a very warm character given of him by those 
who knew him. His person was very fine and his voice 
melodious and winning. Steed used to compare him to Barry, 
but considered him as a superior actor, for that he was equally 
excellent when as the conqueror of the world he sued to 
Statira for pardon, and when in Mirabel he gave additional 
brilliancy to the bon-mots of Congreve. He is said to have 
had so much in him of the agreeable, that when he played Mrs. 
Behn's 1 dissolute character of the Rover, it was remarked by 
many, and particularly by Queen Mary, that it was dangerous 
to see him act, he made vice so alluring. C. Dibdin. 

Mr. William Mountford was accounted an excellent come- 
dian ; and Mr. Wilks often confessed he was the glass he ever 
adjusted himself by. Chetiuood. 

Mrs. Anne Bracegirdle. 
1663-1748. 

It is a funny trait of the sword-wearers that they could extol 
the virtue which they had ineffectually attempted to destroy. 
We see this in the case of Mrs. Bracegirdle, that Diana of the 
stage, before whom Congreve and Lord Lovelace, at the head 
of a troop of bodkined fops, worshipped in vain. The noblest 
of the troop, and it reckoned the Dukes of Devonshire and 
Dorset, the Earl of Halifax, and half a dozen delegates from 



1 Mrs. Behn, variously called Astrea (by Pope), Aphara (by Langbaine), 
and Aphra (by her friends), and who died in 1689, was the writer of seven- 
teen plays and several novels, on one of which Thomas Southerne founded 
his play (tamous in its age) of " Oroonoko." She was a woman of genius, 
but in her morals and writings licentious beyond the privileges of descrip- 
tion. This was the lady who in a dedication told Nell Gwynne, jhat "so 
excellent and perfect a creature as yourself differs only from the divine 
powers in this : the offerings made to you ought to be worthy of you, whilst 
they accept the will alone." Eu. 



Mrs. Anne Bracegirdle. 29 

each rank of the peerage amongst its members, were wont at 
the coffee-house and over a bottle, to extol the Gibraltar-like 
virtue, if I may so speak, of this incomparable woman. 
11 Come," said Halifax, " you are always praising the virtue ; 
tvhy don't you reward the lady who will not sell it ? I propose 
a subscription, and there are two hundred guineas, pour en- 
coura^er Us autres." Four times that amount was raised, and 
with it the nobles, with their swords in their hands, waited on 
Mrs. Bracegirdle, who accepted their testimonial, as it was 
intended, in honour of her virtue. What should we now think 

if ? But this is a delicate matter, and I might make a 

mistake. I will only add therefore, that had Mrs. Bracegirdle 
been rewarded for her charity, the recompense would have 
been at least as appropriate. For it is true of her, that when 
the poor saw her they blessed her, and we may add, she richly 
merited the well-earned benedictions. Dr. Doran. 

Her fascination was such that it was the fashion among the 
gay and young to have a taste or tendrc for Mrs. Bracegirdle. 
From the important characters that were entrusted to her in 
tragedy, it is presumed that she was a good tragic actress ;* but 
Gibber does not say so ; and her chief charm seems to have 
lain in the lighter drama. Thomas Campbell. 

She was of a lovely height, with dark brown hair and eye- 
brows, black sparkling eyes, and a fresh, blushy complexion ; 
and whenever she exerted herself, had an involuntary flushing 
in her breast, neck, and face, having continually a cheerful 
aspect, and a fine set of even white teeth : never making an 
exit but that she left the audience in an imitation of her pleasant 
countenance. Aston. 

She inspired the best authors to write for her ; and two of 
them (Rowe and Congreve) when they gave her a lover in a 
play, seemed palpably to plead their own passions and make 
their private court to her in fictitious characters. Colley 
Cibber. 

It was said of her that in the crowded theatre she had as , 
many lovers as she had male spectators. Yet no lover, how- t 
ever rich, however high in rank, had prevailed on her to be his 
mistress. Those who are acquainted with the parts which she 



* Garrick used to say that he once heard her repeat some lines from 
Shakspeare in a way that convinced him her reputation was wholly un- 
deserved. ED. 



30 Mrs. Anne Bracegirdle, 

was in the habit of saying, and with the epilogue, which it was 
her special business to recite, will not give her credit for any 
extraordinary measure of virtue or delicacy. She seems to have 
been a cold, vain, interested coquette, who perfectly understood 
how much the influence of her charms was increased by the 
fame of a severity which cost her nothing, and who could 
venture to flirt with a succession of admirers in the just confi- 
dence that no flame which she might kindle in them would 
thaw her own ice. Macanlay. 

Mrs. Bracegirdle seems to have been the first actress who 
succeeded in establishing anything like a reputation for private 
worth and propriety of conduct. Mrs. Bracegirdle's career, ii 
not wholly unimpeachable, presented an approximation to vir- 
tuous living, 1 worthy, all the circumstances of her case being 
considered, of very high praise. Gibber, who wrote in the 
lady's lifetime, was her old friend and playfellow, and, it may 
be supposed, was unlikely to give her needless offence, says, 
somewhat reservedly, that she was not unguarded in her private 
character. But he hastens to add that this discretion contri- 
buted not a little to make her the darling of the theatre for, 
although she was a sort of universal passion, scarce an audience 
that saw her being less than half of them her lovers, without a 
suspected favourite among them, and although under the 
highest temptation, her constancy in resisting them served but 
to increase the number of her admirers. Dutton Cook. 



1 How an "approximation to virtuous living" can be worthy of high 
praise is not readily seen. Degrees of virtue are surely inadmissible in a 
female. Either a woman is virtuous or she is not. It is admitted that Mrs. 
Bracegirdle was not virtuous. For what, then, was she deserving of high 
praise? You may qualify your censure in proportion to a woman's behaviour 
of immorality ; but you cannot surely praise her for any semblance of 
decency with which she may choose to mask her immorality. Contemporary 
testimony seems to point out Mrs. Bracegirdle as Congreve's mistress, and 
the conjecture, if conjecture it be, seems strengthened by the poet's legacy 
of 2OO/. Bellchamber, in his edition of Gibber, considers her to have been 
Congreve's mistress, and pronounces her intrigue with Mountford indispu- 
table. Macaulay, in his essays, strongly inclines to this opinion. In 
Spence's Anecdotes, Dr. Young is made to say, "Congreve was very inti- 
mate with Mrs. Bracegirdle, and lived in the same street, his house very 
near hers, until his acquaintance with the young Duchess of Marlborough. 
He then quitted that house" And Nicholas Rowe, in a copy of verses, 
exhorts Lord Scarsdale to 

"Publicly espouse the dame, 
And say, confound the town." ED. 



Benjamin Johnson. 31 

Captain Hill, smitten with the charms of the beautiful Mrs. 
Bncegirdle, and anxious to marry her at all hazards, determined 
to carry her off, and for this purpose hired a hackney-coach 
with six horses, and a half-dozen of soldiers to aid him in the 
storm. The coach with a pair of horses (the four leaders being 
in waiting elsewhere) took its station opposite my Lord Craven's 
house in Drury Lane, by which door Mrs. Bracegirdle was to 
pass on her way from the theatre. As she passed, in company 
of her mamma and a friend, Mr. Page, the captain seized her 
by the hand, the soldiers hustled Mr. Page, and attacked him 
sword in hand, and Captain Hill and his noble friend (Lord 
Mohun) endeavoured to force Madam Bracegirdle into the 
coach. Mr. Page called for help; the population of Drury 
Lane rose ; it was impossible to effect the capture ; and bidding 
the soldiers go about their business and the coach to drive off, 
Hill let go of his prey sulkily, and he waited for other opportu- 
nities of revenge. Thackeray. 

Mrs. Bracegirdle a name that has always been mentioned 
with great respect, both on account of her public merit and 
her private virtues rendered herself a valuable ornament to the 
theatre and to society. She had many admirers, and authors, 
when they have vied with each other in scenes of tenderness, 
are said to have written them only to make their court to her. 
As to her acting, both authors and performers courted the 
assistance of her talents, which were universal. She equally 
delighted in melting tenderness and playful coquetry, in Statira 
or Millamant, and even at an advanced age, when she played 
Angelica in " Love for Love," for Betterton's benefit, she re- 
tained all her powers of pleasing. C. Dibdin. 

Benjamin Johnson. 
1665-1742. 

Benjamin Johnson, commonly called Ben Johnson, was bred 
a painter, where his employment led him to paint under his 
master the scenes for the stage ; but he took more pleasure in 
hearing the actors rehearse than in his pencil or colours ; and 
us he used to say in his merry mood, " Left the saint's occupa- 
tion to take that of a sinner." He arrived to as great a perfection 
in acting as his namesake did in poetry. He seemed to be 
proud to wear that eminent poet's double name, being more 



32 Henry N orris. 

particularly great in all that author's plays that were usually 
performed viz., Wasp in the play of " Bartholomew Fair," Cor- 
baccio in the " Fox," Morose in the " Silent Woman," and Ana- 
nias in the " Alchemist." Chetwood. 

Ben Johnson excelled greatly in all his namesake's comedies, 
then frequently acted. He was of all comedians the chastest 
and closest observer of nature. Johnson never seemed to 
know that he was before an audience ; he drew his character 
as the poet designed it. To form some idea of Johnson, the 
reader must call to mind the simplicity of Weston. T. Dames. 

Henry N orris. 1 
1665-1734. 

This natural comedian was born in Salisbury Court, near the 
spot where the theatre was afterwards erected that went by the, 

name of Dorset Garden Theatre Though a diminutive figure, 

there were many parts that he excelled in viz., Barnaby Brittle 
in the " Wanton Life," &c. I remember when Mr. Norris was 
ift his decline, Mr. Gibber senior made some alterations in the 
play and performed the part himself; Mrs. Oldfield that of Mrs. 
Brittle. But she complained that she could not perform it 
with that spirit with him as she did with little Norris, as she 
called him. When I asked her the reason, she replied, " Cuck- 
oldom did not sit so easy on Gibber's figure as it did upon that 
of Norris, who seemed formed by nature to be one." The 
mother of this little great comedian was one of the first women 
that came on the stage as an actress ; for some time after the 
restoration of King Charles II., young, smooth-faced men per- 
formed the women's parts. That humorous monarch coming 
before his usual time to Shakspeare's " Hamlet," sent the 
facetious Earl of Rochester to know the reason of their delay 
who brought word back that " the queen was not quite shaved." 
" Ods fish !" (his usual exclamation) " I beg her majesty's 
pardon; we'll wait till her barber has done with her." .... Mr. 
Norris spoke tragedy exceedingly knowing in the different 
passions, though he never performed any part in the serious 
cast; for notwithstanding his judgment, on the London theatres 



1 He was known by the nickname of "Jubilee Dicky." 



Norru--Hart. 33 

his figure must have made the sentiments ridiculous. Chet- 
wood. l 

Norris,* whose mother was the earliest English actress, must 
have been, as well as Nokes, an actor like Weston. Uncon- 
scious himself that he did anything more than utter, his audiences 
were constantly in a roar. In all characters of inveterate sim- 
plicity, he was exactly what he represented. C. Dibdin. 

[The following actors belong to this period. They were 
all distinguished for their various excellences; but in com- 
parison with others who were their contemporaries, such 
few testimonies to their abilities have been transmitted, that 
it has been thought best to group them in the following 
order : ] 

HART'S first appearance was at the Red Bull Theatre in 
1659. "The best compliment ever known to have been paid 
to Hart," says Leigh Hunt, " is an anecdote recorded of Bet- 
terton. Betterton acted Alexander after Hart's time; and 
' being at a loss/ says Davies, ' to recover a particular emphasis 
of that performer which gave a force to some interesting situa- 
tion of the part, he applied for information to the players who 
stood near him. At last one of the lowest of the company re- 
peated the line exactly in Hart's key. Betterton thanked him 
heartily, and put a piece of money into his hand, as a reward 
for so acceptable a service.' Hart had the reputation of being 
the first lover of Nell Gwynne, and one of the hundreds of the 



1 Chetwood was for many years prompter of Drury-lane. To his little 
work on the stage, which is full of anecdote, besides containing many in- 
teresting memoirs of actors of whom nothing would be otherwise known, 
"all those," says Dibdin, "who have written on the subject of the stage 
have been materially indebted. " ED. 

2 There was another Norris, an actor who died in 1776, and of whom, 
or rather of whose widow, who became Mi's. Barry, the following singular 
story is told : "Twelve years after Norris's death, Mrs. Barry was acting 
in the town in which he died the character of Calista in the ' Fair Peni- 
tent.' In the last act of the tragedy, where Calista lays her hand upon 
the skull, she was suddenly seized with an involuntary shuddering ; she 
fainted, and was taken to her lodgings ; during the night her illness increased, 
and on the following day, recovering her senses, she anxiously asked whence 
the skull had been procured which had been used on the preceding night. 
Upon inquiry, the sexton told her it was the skull of a Mr. Norris, an actor, 
who was buried in the corner of the churchyard. It proved to be her hus- 
band. The shock killed her ; she .died six weeks afterwards." This 

is given by Oxbeny. ED. 

D 



34 Sand ford Nokes Leigh, 

Duchess of Cleveland." In Pepys's " Diary" the reader will 
find frequent mention of Hart. 

MICHAEL MOHUN (or Moone, as Pepys writes his name) 
" appears," we are told, to have excelled in the ferocious 
parts of tragedy. Little is known of this actor, who was, how- 
ever, held in great estimation by his contemporaries. 

SANDFORD, according to Charles Dibdin, "is supposed to 
have been the completest and most natural performer of a 
villain that ever existed. One would think, had it been pos-^ 
sible that Shakspeare, when he made King John excuse his 
intention of perpetrating the death of Arthur, by his comments 
on Huberts face, by which he saw the assassin in his mind, had. 
Sandford in idea, for he was rather deformed, and had a most 
forbidding countenance. The town, therefore, though the 
private character of this actor was perfectly amiable, could not 
endure him in any part in which there was the remotest simi- 
litude to honour or fair dealing." 

NOKES is described as an actor " of so plain and palpable a 
simplicity, so perfectly his own, that he was as diverting in 
his common speech as on the stage. It is told of him that a 
nobleman hearing him relate to the performers behind the 
scenes a conversation that he had been witness of the day 
before, asked if he was repeating a new part. Nokes, it is 
said, was so perfectly original, that Estcourt, with all those 
powers of mimickry for which he was so famous, could not 
catch the slightest glimpse of him." 

JOHN LEIGH, who was born in 1689, and died in 1726, is 
praised as " having been fraught with humour of a luxuriant kind. 
He was full of variety, and perfectly just to whatever character 
he represented." UNDERBILL, of whom Tom Davies has 
written, " was something," says Dibdin, " between Nokes and 
Leigh. He was true to nature in his acting both from adventi- 
tious endowments and good sense. He performed those parts 
which, though they are considered secondary in plays, require 
very frequently more judgment than those which are called 
principal." 

GOODMAN, the comedian, who left the stage towards the close 
of the seventeenth century, was originally a Cambridge student, 
celebrated for his extravagance in dress, and for his being ex- 
pelled for cutting and defacing the picture of the Duke of 
Monmouth, Chancellor of the University. He took to the 
stage, and was successful ; but his salary was not sufficient to 



, 



Goodman. 35 

enaMe him to dress as he liked, and consequently he " was 
compelled," as he himself said, "to take the air." The light 
comedian, when the play was over, mounted a horse, turned 
highwayman, and was brought thereby so near to the gallows, 
that it was only the sign-manual of James II. that saved his 
neck. The famous Duchess of Cleveland " my Duchess," as 
Goodman used to call her ought not to have left her handsome 
favourite in such a mean condition. His condition was so 
mean that he and a fellow comedian, named Griffin, lived in 
one room, shared the same bed, and had but one shirt between 
them. This they wore alternately. It happened that one of 
them had to pay a visit to a lady, and wished to wear the shirt 
out of his turn ; and this wish so enraged the other, that a 
fierce battle ensued, which ended, like many other battles, in 
the destruction of the prize contended for, and the mutual 
damage of the combatants. Dr. Dor an. 

He was one of the Alexanders of his time, but does not 
appear to have been a great actor. He was a dashing, impu- 
dent fellow, who boasted of his having taken " an airing" on 
the road to recruit his purse. 1 He was expelled from Cam- 
bridge for cutting and defacing the portrait of the Duke of 
Monmouth, Chancellor of the University, but not loyal 
enough to his father to please Goodman. James II. pardoned 
the loyal highwayman, which Goodman (in Gibber's hearing) 
said, " was doing him so particular an honour, that no man 
could wonder if his acknowledgment had carried him a little 
further than ordinary in the interest of that prince. But as he 
had lately been out of luck in backing his old master, he 
had now no way to get home the life he was out, upon his 
account, but by being under the same obligations to King 
William." The meaning of this is understood to be that 
Goodman offered to assassinate William, in consequence of his 
having had a pardon from James ; but the plot not succeeding, 
he turned king's evidence against James, in order to secure a 
pardon from William. This " pretty fellow" was lately so easy 
in his circumstances, owing it is supposed to the delicate 
Cleveland, that he used to say he would never act Alexander 



1 When Gibber was told, on his salary being reduced, that he had even 
then more than Goodman received, who was a better actor : " That may 
be," said Gibber, "but you will please to recollect that Goodman was 
forced to go upon the highway for a livelihood." ED. 

D 1 



36 Richard Estcourt. 

the Great but when he was certain that his " Duchess" would 
be in the box to see him. Leigh Hunt* 

[Among other actors of this period were Keen, Griffith, Brown 
Cross, and Trefusis, all spoken of as respectable, and even 
eminent in their different walks.] 

Richard Estcourt. 
1668-1713. 

Estcourt, the comedian or mimic rather for like most 
players who devote themselves to mimickry, which is a kind of 
caricature portrait-painting, his comedy, or general humour, 
was inferior to it. He was, however, a man of wit as well as a 
mimic ; and in spite of a talent which seldom renders men 
favourites in private, was so much regarded that when the 
Beefsteak Club was set up (which a late author says must not 
be confounded with the Beefsteak Club held in Covent Garden 
Theatre and the Lyceum 2 ), Estcourt was appointed provveditore, 
or caterer, and presented, as a badge of distinction, with a 
small gridiron of gold, which he wore about his neck fastened 
to a green ribbon. He is said at one time to have been a 
tavern-keeper, in which quality (unless it was in the other) 
Parnell speaks of him in the beginning of one of his poems : 

" Gay Bacchus liking Estcourt's wine, 
A noble meal bespoke us." 

Leigh Hunt. 

Gibber says, Estcourt was so amazing and extraordinary a 
mimic, that no man nor woman, from the coquette to the privy 
councillor, ever moved or spoke before him, that he would 
not carry their voice, look, mien, and motion into another 
company. But this, however, was the boundary of his merit ; 
and though he is said to have written notes on the part of 



1 The reader will compare Hunt's account of Goodman's "circum- 
stances" with Dr. Doran's. ED. 

2 Lambert, the scene-painter, when preparing his designs for ft panto- 
mime or new spectacle, would often take his chop or iicak cooked on the 
German stove rather t^an quit his occupation for the superior accommoda- 
tion of a neighbouring tavern. Certain of his visitors, men of taste, struck 
with the novelty of the thing, perhaps, or tempted by the savoury dish, 
took a knife and fork with Lambert, and enjoyed the treat. Hence the 
origin of t^ Beefsteak Club. Wine and Walnuts. 



Riclia i -d Estcourt. 3 7 

Falstaff, describing the true spirit of the humour, and the tone, 
look, and gesture with which it ought to be delivered; yet 
,vhen he came on the stage there was a flatness and insipidity 
in his acting that showed he could greatly conceive, but had 
not the power to execute. C. jDilhlin. 

The best man that I know of for heightening the revel-gaiety 
of a company is Estcourt, whose jovial humour diffuses itself 
from the highest person at an entertainment to the meanest 
waiter. 1 Merry tales, accompanied with apt gestures and lively 
representations of circumstances -and persons, beguile the 
gravest mind into a consent to be as humorous as himself. 
Add to this, that when a man is in his good grace, he has a 
mimickry that does not debase the person he represents, but 
which, taking from the gravity of the character, adds to the 
agreeableness of it. This pleasant fellow gives one some idea 
of the ancient Pantomime, who is said to have given the 
audience in dumb show an exact idea of any character or 
passion, or an intelligible relation of any publick occurrence, 
with no other expression than that of his looks and gestures. 
Sir Richard Steele. 

Richard Estcourt, born at Tewkesbury in 1688, and 
educated in the Latin school there, stole from home at the age 
of fifteen to join a travelling company of comedians at Wor- 
cester, and, to avoid detection, made his first appearance in 
women's clothes as Roxana, in "Alexander the Great." He 
was discovered, however, pursued, brought home, carried to 
London, and bound prentice to an apothecary in Hatton- 
garden. He escaped again, wandered about England, went to 
Ireland, and there obtained credit as an actor ; then returned 
to London, and appeared at Drury-lane, where his skill as a 
mimic enabled him to perform each part in the manner of the 
actor who had obtained chief credit by it. His power of 
mimickry made him very diverting in society; and as he had 
natural politeness with a sprightly wit, his company was sought 
and paid for at the entertainments of the great. " Dick Est- 
court" was a great favourite with the Duke of Marlborough, 
and when men of wit and rank joined in establishing the Beef- 
steak Club, they made Estcourt their provider v?, with a small 
gold gridiron for badge, hung round his neck by a green ribbon. 



1 Tie was the author of a comedy called "The Fair Example," and an 
iuteiiude, " Prunella." ED. 



38 George Powell. 

Estcourt was a writer for the stage, as well as an actor. 
Henry Morley. 

Mr. Estcourt was the original Sergeant Kite, and every 
night of performance entertained the audience with a variety 
of little catches and flights of humour, that pleased all but 
his critics. He was a great favourite with the late Duke 
of Marlborough, whose fame he celebrated in several out-of- 
the-way witty ballads. He was author of a comedy called 
" The Wife's Excuse ; or, Cuckolds Make Themselves," and 
acted at the Theatre Royal in the year 1706 ; but, as I have 
been informed, with moderate success. Another little piece 
was produced by him called " Prunella," a burlesque upon the 
Italian operas then stole into fashion, too much supported by 
the excellent voice and judgment of Mrs. Tofts. 1 Chetwood 1 s 

George Powell. 
1669-1714. 

He was a good actor, spoilt by intemperance, who came upon 
the stage sometimes warm with Nantz brandy, and courted his 
heroines so furiously that Sir John Vanbrugh said they were 
almost in danger of being conquered on the spot. His last new 
part of any note was, in 1713, Portius in Addison's "Cato." He 
lived on for a few wretched months, lost to the public but much 
sought by sheriffs' officers. Henry Morley. 

The warm and passionate parts of tragedy are always the 
most taking with the audience ; for which reason we often see 
the players pronouncing in all the violence of action several 
parts of the tragedy which the author writ with great temper, 
and designed that they should have been so acted. I have 
seen Powell very often raise himself a loud clap by this artifice. 
Addison? 

1 Mrs. Tofts, a famous singer of her day, was the daughter of a person in 
the family of Bishop Bumet. In 1709 she quitted the stage mad, but 
recovered, and married Mr. Smith. Her madness, however, returned, 
taking the form of identifying herself with the Royal heroines whom she 
had personated. She died 1758. ED. 

2 To this is appended the following apologetic note : " Having spoken 
of Mr. Powell as sometimes raising himself applause from the ill taste of 
an audience, I must do him the justice to own that he is excellently formed 
for a tragedian, and, when he pleases, deserves the admiration of the best 
judges." The Spectator , No. 40. 



Mrs. Siisannah Mountford. 39 

Powell, who was added to the company 1 soon after its 
union, felt an early ambition to perform capital parts ; and 
when Rich quarrelled with his actors, and Betterton had it in 
his idea to leave him, with the utmost presumption PoweU 
agreed to accept of his characters, some of which he took pos- 
session of, and almost the whole of Mountford's. 8 C. Dibdin. 

Mr. George Powell, a reputable actor with many excel- 
lencies, gave out that he would perform the part of Sir John 
Falstaff in the manner of that very excellent English Roscius, 
Mr. Betterton. He certainly hit his manner and tone of voice; 
yet to make the picture more like, he mimicked the infirmities 
of distemper, old age, and the afflicting pains of the gout which 
that great man was often seized with. ChetwootTs " History of 
the Stage." 

Mrs. Susannah Mountford. 
1669-1701. 

Mrs. Mountford during her last years became deranged, but 
as her disorder was not outrageous, she was not placed under 
any rigorous confinement, but was suffered to walk about her 
house. One day, in a lucid interval, she asked what play was to 
be performed that evening, and was told it was to be " Hamlet." 
Whilst she was on the stage she had acted Ophelia with great 
applause ; the recollection struck her, and with all that cunning 
which is so frequently allied to insanity, she found means to 
elude the care of her attendants, and got to the theatre, where, 
concealing herself till the scene where Ophelia was to make her 
appearance in her mad state, she pushed upon the stage before 
the person appointed to play the character, and exhibited a 
representation of it that astonished the performers as well as 
the audience. She exhausted her vital powers in this effort, 
was taken home, and died soon after. Genes? s " Account of the 
English Stage" 

Mrs. Mountford was a capital stage coquette, besides being 
able to act male coxcombs and country dowdies. Leigh Hunt. 

Melantha is as finished an impertinent as ever fluttered in a 



1 i.e., the King's Company. ED. 

2 There was another Powell, a contemporary of George Powell, who was a 
deformed cripple, and who achieved some celebrity as a puppet-showman. 
Steele has written of him in the Spectator. ED. 



40 Mrs. Susannah Mountford. 

drawing-room, and seems to contain the most complete system 
of female foppery that could possibly be crowded into the 
tortured form of a fine lady. Her language, dress, motion, 
manners, soul and body, are in a continual hurry to do some- 
thing more than is necessary or commendable. And though I 
doubt it will be a vain labour to offer you a just likeness of Mrs. 
Mountford's action, yet the fantastic impression is still so 
strong in my memory that I cannot help saying something, 
though fantastically, about it. The first ridiculous airs that 
break from her, are upon a gallant never seen before, who 
delivers her a letter from her father, recommending him to her 
good graces, as an honourable lover. Here now, one would 
think, she might naturally show a little of the sex's decent 
reserve, though never so slightly covered. No, sir, not a tittle 
of it ; modesty is the virtue of a poor-souled country gentle- 
woman ; she is too much a court lady to be under so vulgar 
a confusion : she reads the letter therefore with a careless 
dropping lip, and an erected brow, humming it hastily over as 
if she were impatient to outgo her father's commands, by making 
a complete conquest of him at once ; and that the latter might 
not embarrass her attack, crack ! she scrambles it at once into 
her palm, and pours upon him her whole artillery of airs, eyes, 
and motion ; down goes her dainty diving body to the ground, 
as if she were sinking under the conscious load of her own 
attractions ; then launches into a flood of fine language and 
compliment, still playing her chest forward in fifty falls and 
risings, like a swan upon waving water ; and to complete her 
impertinence, she is so rapidly fond of her own wit, that she 
will not give her lover leave to praise it ; silent assenting bows 
and vain endeavours to speak are all the share of the conver- 
sation he is admitted to : which at last he is relieved from by 
her engagements to half a score visits, which she swims from him 
to make, with a promise to return in a twinkling. Colley Gibber. 
It is supposed that no actress ever performed so variously as 
Mrs. Mountford. She had every species of native humour at 
command ; she was equally natural in characters of high and 
low life, and would with the same ease and fidelity personate 
an affected coquette in a drawing-room, and a dowdy in a 
cottage ; to all which she added the talents of being a most 
inimitable mimic, and is said to have played jBayes 1 in the 



1 The name of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, demands cordi* 



Robert Wilks. 41 

" Rehearsal," upon a particular occasion, probably a benefit, 
with more variety than had ever been thrown into ft before. 

C. Diidin. 

Robert Wilks. 
1670-1732. 

A nun who, whatever were his abilities or skill as an 
actor, deserves at least to be remembered for his virtues, which 
are not often to be found in the world, and perhaps less often 
in his profession than in others. 1 Dr. Johnson. 



mention by every writer on the stage. Whatever we may think of him as a 
man and as a man it would he difficult to speak of him in terms sufficiently 
condemnatory high praise is dvie to him as a writer. He lived in an age 
when plays were chiefly written in rhyme, which served as a vehicle for 
foaming sentiments, clouded by hyperbole, the whole informed with a kind of 
hydrophobaic madness. The dramas of Lee and Settle offer but a scanty 
illustration of the general quality of the plays of that epoch, made up of 
blatant couplets that emptily thundered through five long acts. To explode 
an unnatural custom by ridiculing it, was Buckingham's design in the " Re- 
hearsal," though in doing this the gratification of private dislike was a greater 
stimulus than the wish to promote the public good. Settle's plays are more 
meaningless than Crowne's, Howard's, and Dryden's ; yet Buckingham 
would patronize Settle at the same time that he was ridiculing in the others 
Settle's conspicuous defect. Still the " Rehearsal" did good ; for though 
it did not immediately achieve its end, it cleared the way for reform. And 
it is due to Buckingham to say that though his sentiments were largely 
shared in even by those whom he attacked, he stood alone in his resolution 
to effect a reformation in the drama. ED. 

1 Johnson, in this commendation, particularly refers to Wilks's treatment 
of Savage. But Savage was not the only man who enjoyed Wilks's 
bounty. "Smith," says Dibdin, "was designed for the Church; but 
finding it impossible to become an orator from an impediment in his speech, 
he was determined to turn his thoughts to some other profession, and upon 
considering the matter every way, at last thought physic the best choice he 
could possibly make. To furnish himself with the means of prosecuting 
his studies, he wrote a play called ''The Captive Princess." It was 
refused by the actors ; but Wilks, entering into the spirit of Smith's inten- 
tion, offered him a benefit, which he rendered so profitable that it enabled 
his friend to enter himself at Leyden, where he applied to the study of 
physic so diligently that Dr. Boerhaave recommended him to the Czarina, 
who made hira one of the physicians of the Russian Court." History of the 
Stage. Wilks was equally generous to Farquhar, the dramatist. Re- 
duced to extreme indigence in his last days, Farquhar, from his death-bed, 
sent Wilks the following letter: " Dear Bob, I have not anything to 
leave thee to perpetuate my memory but two helpless girls ; look upon 
them sometimes, and think of him who was to the last moment of his life 
thine. G. Farquhar." Wilks at once set to work procuring benefits for 



42 Robert Wilks. 

Wilks the actor was the greater ruler in matters of dress about 
this time. He was exceedingly simple in his tastes off the 
stage, but he was the best-dressed man upon it ; and what he 
adopted was universally followed. An eminent critic writing of 
this actor in 1729, says, "Whatever he did on the stage, let it 
be ever so trifling whether it consisted in putting on his gloves, 
or taking out his watch, lolling on his cane, or taking snuff 
every movement was marked by such an ease of breeding and 
manner, everything told so strongly the involuntary motion of 
a gentleman, that it was impossible to consider the character he 
represented in any other light than that of reality ; but what 
was still more surprising, that person who could thus delight 
an audience from the gaiety and sprightliness of his manner, I 
met the next day in the street hobbling to a hackney-coach, 
seemingly so enfeebled by age and infirmities that I could 
scarcely believe him to be the same man." This splendid 
dresser exercised charity in a questionably liberal manner. 
He was a father to orphans, and left his widow with scarcely 
enough to find herself in cotton gowns. Dr. Doran. 

In " Rule a Wife," the old stage critics delighted in the 
Copper Captain \ it was the test for every comedian. It could 
be worked on like a picture and new readings given. Here it 
was admitted that Wilks was unrivalled. Fitzgerald. 

Wilks has a singular talent in representing the graces of 
nature : Gibber the deformity in the affectation of them. Were 
I a writer of plays, I should never employ either of them in 
parts which had not their bent this way. This is seen in the 
inimitable strain and run of good humour which is kept up in 
the character of Wildair, and in the nice and delicate abuse of 
understanding in that of Sir Novelty. Gibber in another light 
hits exquisitely the flat civility of an affected gentleman usher, 

and Wilks the easy flatness of a gentleman To beseech 

gracefully, to approach respectfully, to pity, to mourn, to love, 
are the places wherein Wilks may be made to shine with the 
utmost beauty. To rally pleasantly, to scorn artfully, to flatter, 
to ridicule, and neglect, are what Gibber would perform with 
no less excellence. Steele. 

Wilks was an Irishman and had never dreamt of being an 
actor, but had drudged on in the Secretary of State's office, till 



his friend's family. Mention is made, however, of one of Farquhar's daughters 
being alive in 1764, and having to submit to drudgery for bread. ED. 



Co I ley Cibber. 43 

I <nvate persons gave a play gratis. This play was "Othello," 
and Wilks acted the Moor, from which moment, though he was 
conscious how many circumstances he had to struggle against, 
he determined to quit his situation, by which his successor 
acquired a fortune of fifty thousand pounds, and attach himself 
wholly to the stage. With a view of getting at once into 
fame he came to England, but being neglected for a con 
siderable time returned to Dublin, where, having gained 
experience, he once more came to England, and an opportunity 
being now opened to him by Mountford's death of trying his 
fortune, he began soon to be received by the public as a very 
sensible if not a very excellent actor. Wilks seems to have 
had many radical imperfections like Cibber, which he was 
obliged to soften and conceal by various arts. These arts at 
last became a standard, and have ever since been resorted to 
by all those whose merits as actors have been derived from 
information, understanding, and a strong comprehension of the 
passions and their motives ; but to whom nature has denied 
either passion, or voice, or some other of those prominent 
requisites without which an actor with the best conception 
must have to struggle against the stream. C. Dibdin, 

Mr. Wilks's excellence in comedy was never once disputed, 
but the best judges extol him for the different parts in tragedy, 
as Hamlet, Castalio in the "Orphan," Ziphares in " Mithridates," 
Edgar in " King Lear," Norfolk in the "Albion Queens," Percy 
in " Anna Bullen," Earl of Essex, Shore, Macduff, Moneses in 
" Tamerlane," Jaffier in " Venice Preserved," and a countless 
catalogue of other parts in tragedy which he was allowed to 
perform in their full perfection. He was not only perfect in 
every part he acted, but in those that were concerned with him 
in every scene, which often prevented mistakes. Chetwood. 

Colley Cibber. 
1671-1757. 

Colley Cibber, sir, was by no means a blockhead ; but 
by arrogating to himself too much, he was in danger of 
losing that degree of estimation to which he was entitled. 
Dr. Johnson. 

As for Cibber himself, taking from his conversation all that 
he ought not to have said, he was a poor creature. I remem- 



44 Colley Cibbcr. 

her when he brought me one of his Odes to have my opinion, 
I could not hear such nonsense, and would not let him read it 
to the end, so little respect had I for that great man (laughing). 
Ibid. 

Macklin says, Nature formed Colley Gibber for a coxcomb ; 
for though in many respects he was a sensible and observant 
man, a good performer and a most excellent comic writer, yet 
his predominant tendency was to be considered among the men 
as a leader of fashion, among the women as a beau-gar^on. 
Hence he excelled in almost the whole range of light fantastic 
comic characters. His Lord Foppington was considered for 
many years as a model for dress, and that hauteur and non- 
chalance which distinguished the superior coxcombs of that 
day. The picture of him in this character, with a stiff em- 
broidered suit of clothes, loaded with the ornaments of rings, 
muff, clouded cane, and snuff-box, exhibits a good lesson to 
a modern beau of the versatility and frivolity of fashion. 
Percy Anecdotes. 

Colley Gibber, to the reputation of an approved and success- 
ful writer, added the higher character of a distinguished 
dramatic writer. His merit in both capacities introduced him 
to persons in high life, and made him free of all gay companies. 
In his youth he was a man of great levity, and the constant 
companion of our young noblemen and men of fashion in their 
hours of dissipation ; Gibber diverted them with his odd sallies 
of humour and odd vivacities. lie had the good fortune, in 
advanced life, to solace the cares of a great statesman, in his 
relaxations from business ; Mr. Pelham loved a tete-a-tete with 
Colley Gibber. But an habitual love of play, and a riveted 
attachment to pleasure, rendered him not so agreeable to 
persons of a grave turn of mind. T. Davies. 

Colley Gibber, one of the earliest of the dramatic autobio- 
graphers, is also one of the most amusing. He flourished in 
wig and embroidery, player, poet, and manager, during the 
Augustan age of Queen' Anne, somewhat earlier and somewhat 
later. A most egregious fop according to all accounts he was, 
but a very pleasant one notwithstanding, as your fop of parts is 
apt to be. Pope gained but little in the warfare he waged with 
him, for this plain reason, that the great poet accuses his adver- 
sary of dulness, which was not by any means one of his sins, 
instead of selecting one of the numerous faults, such as pertness, 



Co I ley Cibber. 45 

petulance, and presumption, of which he was really guilty. 
M. R. Mitford. 

Colley Cibber was extremely haughty as a theatrical 
manager, 1 and very insolent to dramatists. When he had 
rejected a play, if the author desired him to point out 
the particular parts of it which displeased him, he took 
a pinch of snuff, and answered in general terms, "Sir, there 
is nothing in it to coerce my passions." Fielding intro- 
duces this expression into one of his plays, containing a 
personal satire upon Colley and his son Theophilus. George 
Colman. 

As to his person, he is straight and well-made ; of an open 
countenance, even free from the conspicuous marks of old age. 
Meet or follow hi>n, and no person would imagine he ever bore 



1 The history of Dairy Lane Theatre, with which the name of Colley 
Cibber is intimately associated, may be briefly summarized thus : 

1663. On the 8th of April Killigrew opened the theatre which he had 
built in Drury-lane. 

1668. Davenant died. Three years after a new house was opened in 
Dorset-gardens, Salisbury-square, under the management of Lady Davenant, 
Sir William's relict. It did not answer. 

1672. Drury Lane was burnt. A few months after Killigrew's patent 
was united to Davenant's patent. 

1674. Drury Lane was rebuilt by Sir C. Wren. 

1690. Alex. Davenant sold the patent that had been assigned to him in 
1689 by Charles Davenant to Christopher Rich, a lawyer, who afterwards 
took Sir Thomas Skipwith as a partner. 

1694. Rich attempted to reduce the salaries of the actors. They seceded, 
and acted in Tennis-court, Lincoln's-inn-fields. 

1707. Drury Lane was closed by order of the Lord Chamberlain. 

1710. Collier broke into Drury Lane, ejected Rich, and took possession. 

1711. Wilks, Doggett, and Cibber entered into partnership with 
Collier. 

1712. Doggett retired from, and Booth entered into, the partnership. 
1714. A life-patent granted to Sir R. Steele. Revoked in 1719. 

1 747. Garrick became a partner with Lacey. 

1774. Lacey died, and Garrick became sole proprietor. 

1776. Sheridan, Lindley, and Ford purchased Drury Lane from Garrick. 

1783. A patent granted to the three proprietors for twenty-one years, 
to commence Sept 2, 1795. 

1789. The Drury Lane Theatre about to be taken down, (he company 
played at the King's Theatre, Haymarket. 

1 794. The new Drury Lane Theatre opened. 

1809. Destroyed by fire. The company played at the Lyceum. 

1812. Drury Lane opened under the management of Arnold. 



46 Colly Gibber. 

the burden of above two-thirds of his years. Chetwootfs 
" History of the Stage" 1749. 

Colley Gibber wore the laurel with unblushing front for 
twenty-seven years, from 1730. His annual birthday and new- 
year's odes for all that time are treasured in the Gentleman's 
Magazine. They are all so bad that his friends pretended he 
had made them so on purpose. Dr. Johnson, however, asserted 
from his personal knowledge of the man that he took great pains 
with his lyrics, and thought them far superior to Pindar's. His 
effusions are truly incomparable. Not only are they all bad, 
but not one of them in twenty-seven years contains a good line. 
Yet he was, happily for himself, more impenetrable to the gibes 
of the wits than a buffalo to the stings of mosquitoes. Of the 
numerous epigrams twanged at him, here is one from the London 
Magazine for 1737 : 

" ON SEEING TOBACCO-PIPES LIT WITH ONE OF THE LAUREATE'S ODES. 

" While the soft song that warbles George's praise 
From pipe to pipe the living flame conveys ; 
Critics, who long have scorn'd, must now admire, 
For who can say his ode now wants its fire ?" 

Blackwood's Magazine, 1848. 

Gibber, though he wrote a good comedy, would appear by 
some accounts of him to have been little more on the stage than 
a mimic of past actors. Leigh Hunt. 

Garrick, when he made one laugh, was not always judicious, 
though excellent. What idea did his Sir John Brute give of a 
surly husband ? His Bayes was no less entertaining ; but it 
was a Garreteer-bard. Old Gibber preserved the solemn cox- 
comb ; and was the caricature of a great poet, as the part was 
designed to be. Walpole. 

His treatise on the stage is inimitable. Ibid. 

Gibber, with a great stock of levity, vanity, and affectation, 
had sense, and wit, and humour. Warton. 

Gibber was perhaps upon the whole a character of as singular 
utility to the theatre as any that ever lived ; for without any 
extraordinary inherent genius, by judgment, by art, by inge- 
nuity, and by perseverance, he became eminent as an actor, as 
an author, and as a manager ; and I think it not difficult to pro- 
nounce that, in the last capacity, Garrick modelled his conduct 



Thomas Doggett, 17 

upon Gibber's plan. Conscious 'of the impossibility of attain- 
ing reputation as an author by bold and genuine traits of intui- 
tive genius, he contented himself with keeping within the 
modesty of nature, and what he lost on the side of fire and 
spirit he by this means gained on the side of order and morality. 
Thus, when the Anathema of Collier was fulminated against 
those oaks, Dryden, Congreve, and the rest, Cibber kept him- 
self as inoffensive and secure as that laurel with which he was 
afterwards so harmlessly adorned. C. Dibdin. 

Thomas Doggett. 
.... 1721. 

When we come to characters directly comical, it is not to be 
imagined what effect a well-regulated stage would have upon 
men's manners. The craft of an usurer, 'the absurdity of a rich 
fool, the awkward roughness of a fellow of half-courage, the un- 
graceful mirth of a fellow of half-wit, might be for ever put out 
of countenance by proper parts for Doggett. Sir Richard Steele. 

An excellent comic actor, who was for many years joint 
manager with Wilks and Cibber .... and bequeathed the Coat 
and Badge that are rowed for by Thames watermen every first 
of August from London Bridge to Chelsea. H. Morley. 

Doggett, as we are informed from good and impartial autho- 
rity, was the most original and strictest observer of nature of 
all the actors then living. He was ridiculous without impro- 
priety, he had a different look for every different kind of 
humour ; and though he was an excellent mimic, he imitated 
nothing but nature. In comic songs and dances he was admi- 
rable ; and if the description of his performance of Ben, in 
" Love for Love," be correct, that part has certainly never been 
performed since to any degree of perfection. He was a great 
observer of nature, and particularly delighted in catching the 
manners in low life, as Congreve is said to have gone to 
Wapping to write Ben, Gay to Newgate to furnish his " Beggars' 
Opera," or as Swift used to listen for hours to the low Irish ; 
but with all this the acting of Doggett was so chaste, and his 
manners in private life so well bred, that though he never chose 
to be the actor anywhere but on the stage, yet his company was 
warmly sought after by persons of rank and taste. Dibdin. 



48 John Rich. 

This truly great comedian was born in Castle-street, Dublin 
(a. circumstance overlooked by the laureate, Gibber). He left 
his occupation as an actor several years before his death, and 
in his will bequeathed to Waterman Hall a sum for ever, suffi- 
cient to buy a coat and silver badge, to be rowed for on the 
Thames by prentices every year that have fulfilled their in- 
dentures. A humorous poet wrote the following lines on the 
occasion on a glass window at Lambeth, on August ist, 1736 : 

" Tom Doggett, the greatest sly drole in his parts, 
In acting was certain a master of arts. 
A monument left no herald is fuller, 
His praise is sung yearly by many a sculler. 
Ten thousand years hence, if the world lasts so lon* 
T./m Doggett must still be the theme of their long. 

Chdwood. 

Doggett, the player, was a man of great humanity, as will 
appear by this story : His landlady's maid having taken an 
opportunity to go into his chamber one afternoon and cut her 
throat with one of his razors, of which an account being brought 
to him behind the scenes the same night, Doggett with great 
concern and emotion cried out, " Zounds, I hope it was not 
with my best razor" R. Wewitzer. 

John Rich. 
1681-1761. 

When Lun appeared, with matchless art and whim, 
He gave the power of speech to every limb ; 
Tho' mask'd and mute convey'd his quick intent, 
And told in frolic gestures what he meant : 
But now the motley coat and sword of wood 
Require a tongue to make them understood. Garrick. 

In gesticulations and humour our Rich appears to have been 
a complete mimic ; his genius was entirely confined to panto- 
mime, and he had the glory of introducing harlequin 1 on the 



1 The parti-coloured hero, with every part of his dress, has been drawn 
out of the great wardrobe of antiquity ; he was a Roman Mime. Harle- 
quin is described with hi* shaven head, rasis capitibus ; his sooty face, 
fuligine faciem obducti ; his flat, unshod feet, planipedes ; and his patched 
coat of many colours, Mimi centunculo. See " Curiosities of Literature." 






John Rich. 49 

English stage, which he played under the feigned name of LUN. 
11 Id describe to the audience by his signs and gestures as 
intelligibly as others could express by words. There is a large 
caricature print of the triumph which Rich had obtained over 
the severe muses of tragedy and comedy, which lasted too 
long not to excite jealousy and opposition from the corps 
dra inati(jue. /. D 1 Israeli. 

The name of Rich should be dear to all pantomime goers ; 
and the rows of little ones that line the front seats at Christ- 
mas taught who their benefactor was. There were pantomimes, 
indeed, before his day, so early as the year 1700; but it was 
Rich, both as player and writer, who made that sort of piece 
respectable. It was in 1717 that we find his name con- 
spicuously associated with a Feerie, called " Harlequin Exe- 
cuted !" He was a strange being and curious manager, but 
beyond question the most vivacious and original of harlequins. 
. . . . Rich from some affectation would not appear under 
his own name, but was always set down in the bills as " Mr. 
Lun." He was not a little eccentric, and had a dialect of his 
own, with an odd, blunt, Abernethy manner. P. Fitzgerald. 

The poor man's head, which was not naturally very clear, 
had been disordered with superstition, and he laboured under 
the tyranny of a wife and the terror of hell-fire at the same 
time. Smollett. 

Mr. Rich was not only a very artful contriver of that kind of 
stage entertainment called pantomime, but an admirable actor 
of harlequin, the principal actor in it. 1 Nor can we boast of 



1 Colman, in his " Random Records," tells a good story of one John- 
stone, a machinist, who was connected with Old Drury during the time of 
Sheridan. "He was celebrated," he says, "for his superior taste and 
skill in the construction of flying chariots, triumphal cars, palanquins, 
banners, wooden children to be tossed over battlements, and straw 
heroes and heroines to be hurled down a precipice ; he was further 
famous for wickerwork lions, pasteboard swans, and all the sham 
birds and beasts appertaining to a theatrical menagerie. He wished on a 
certain occasion to spy the nakedness of the enemy's camp, and therefore 
contrived to insinuate himself, with a friend, into the two-shilling gallery, 
to witness the night rehearsal of a pantomime at Covent Garden Theatre. 
Among the attractions of this Christmas foolery a real elephant was intro- 
duced ; and in due time the unwieldy brute came clumping down the 
stage, making a prodigious figure in a procession. The friend who sat 
close to Johnstone jogged his elbow, whispering, "This is a bitter bad job 
for Drury. Why, the elephant's alive I he'll carry all before him, and 





50 John Rick. 

any one man who has, during the space of fifty years, 
approached to his excellencies in that part. His gesticulation 
was so perfectly expressive of his meaning, that every motion 
of his hand or head, or any part of his body, was a kind of 
dumb eloquence that was readily understood by the audience. 
Mr. Garrick's action was not more perfectly adapted to his 
characters than Mr. Rich's attitudes and movements to the 
varied employment of the wooden sword magician. His 
taking leave of Columbine in one or two of his pantomimes 
was at once graceful and affecting. T. Davies. 

As the late Mr. Rich, the celebrated Harlequin, was one even- 
ing returning home from the playhouse, in a hackney-coach, he 
ordered the coachman to drive him to the Sun, then a famous 
tavern in Clare Market. Just as the coach passed one of the 
windows of the tavern, Rich, who perceived it to be open, 
dexterously threw himself out of the coach-window into the 
room. The coachman, who saw nothing of this transaction, 
drew up, descended from his box, opened the coach door, and 
let down the step, then taking off his hat, he waited for some 
time, expecting his fare to alight ; but at length, looking into the 
coach, and seeing it empty, he bestowed a few hearty curses on 
the rascal who had bilked him, remounted his box, turned about, 
and was returning to his stand, when Rich, who had watched 
his opportunity, threw himself into the coach, looked out, asked 
the fellow where the devil he was driving, and desired him to 
turn about. The coachman, almost petrified with fear, instantly 
obeyed, and once more drove up to the door of the tavern. 
Rich now got out, and after reproaching the fellow with 
stupidity, tendered him his money. " No, God bless your 
honour," said the coachman'; " my master has ordered me to 
take no money to-night." "Pshaw!" said Rich; "your 
master's a fool ; here's a shilling for yourself." " No, no," 
said the coachman, who had by this time remounted his box, 
" that wont do. I know you too well for all your shoes ; and 
so, Mr. Devil, for once you're outwitted." A Thousand Notable 
Things. 1800. 

Nobody in Harlequins beat Rich, the manager of this 



beat you hollow. What d'ye think on't, eh ?" " Think on't !" said John- 
stone, in a tone of the utmost contempt; "I should be very sorry if I 
couldn't make a much better elephant than that at any time !" 



John Rich. 51 

theatre (Covent Garden). 1 His pantomimes and spectacles 
produced a reaction against Garrick, when nothing else could ; 
and Covent Garden ever since has been reckoned the superior 
house in that kind of merit " the wit," as Mr. Ludlow Holt 
calls it, " of goods and chattels." 3 Leigh Hunt. 



1 The name of Rich is associated with Covent Garden Theatre as that of 
Gibber is with Drury Lane. The following summary epitomizes the history 
of that theatre : 

1732. John Rich and his company removed to Covent Garden from the 
theatre in Lincoln's-inn-fields. 

1761. John Rich died. His son-in-law, Beard, continued to play at 
Covent Garden Theatre under Rich's patent. 

1767. Beard sold his interest in the house for6o,ooo/. toColman, Harris, 
Powell, and Rutherford. 

1791. The new Covent Garden Theatre opened. 

1803. Kemble came into the management. 

1808. It was destroyed by fire. The company removed to the King's 
Theatre. 

1809. Rebuilt by Beazley and re-opened. The O. P. riots. 
1812. Mrs. Siddons took her farewell benefit. 

1816. Macready's first appearance. 

1818. H. Harris came into the management. 

1823. Charles Kemble came into the management. 

1839. Madame Vestris came into the management. 

1847. Opened for Italian Opera. 

3 A jumper or vaulter named Ireland, who was acting about the com- 
mencement of the present century, seems to have been of as remarkable 
an agility as Rich. Here is a story of him : Ireland, the vaulter, -was 
the most extraordinary natural jumper I ever saw, though I have seen 
many who excelled him when aided by the spring-board and other arti- 
ficial contrivances. I have walked with Ireland, and he has suddenly 
left my arm, and with the mere impetus of a couple of paces, jumped over 
a turnpike gate. His leaping over the bar opposite the Surrey Theatre, 
when going home half tipsy, first attracted attention towards him. In 
those days of practical joking he was foremost in frolic ; his animal spirits 
were great, and he was vain and fond of display. One trick of his was, 
if he saw a horse held in waiting for his rider, to stand beside it, as if 
uncertain which way he should turn for a moment ; and when he saw the 
rider coming out, to spring clean over the back of the horse, with a 
ludicrous appearance of anxiety to get out of the gentleman's way. What 
made this seem more singular was that Ireland always walked off as if 
he had performed no extraordinary feat at all, leaving those who had 
beheld the jump doubting the evidence of their own senses, and liable, of 
course, to be doubly doubted if they narrated the occurrence. One of his 
stage exhibitions was to throw a somersault over a waggon and eight 
horses over a dozen grenadiers standing at present arms with fixed 
bayonets. Sir Thomas Picton, a man of unquestionable courage, went to 
witness this exhibition ; but when he saw the men placed he trembled 

2 



52 John Rich. 

Harlequin comes their chief ! See from afar 

The hero seated in fantastic car ! 

Wedded to novelty, his only arms 

Are wooden swords, wands, talismans, and chars*. 

On one side Folly sits, by some called Fun, 

And on the other his arch-patron LUN. 

Behind, for liberty athirst in vain, 

Sense, helpless captive ! drags the galling chain. 

Churchill. 

The education of Rich, manager of Lincoln's Inn Fields 
and Covent Garden Theatres, had been grossly neglected, con- 
sequently, though he had a good understanding, his language 
was vulgar and ungrammatical. He had contracted a strange 
and rude habit of calling everybody Mister, which gave rise to 
an unmannerly bon-mot by Foote. Rich having called him 
Mister several times, Foote grew warm, and asked him the 
reason of his not calling him by his name. " Don't be angry," 
said Rich ; " for I sometimes forget my own name." " That's 
extraordinary," replied Foote, " for though I knew you could 
not write it, I did not suppose you could forget it." Ana. 

Covent Garden Theatre continued till 1760 to be uninter- 
ruptedly managed by Rich, who, it must be confessed, upon 
his father's plan, though he was not the same nefarious cha- 
racter, continued to keep himself up as a formidable rival to 
the managers of Drury Lane. His own performance of 
Harlequin, and the advantage he took of English inclination 
/or foreign gew-gaws, now and then operated in his favour with 
decided superiority. In the time of Fleetwood his pantomimes 
were a great injury to his opponents, and though I do not find 
he was ever splendidly off indeed, he is described to have 
been at one time so necessitated as to have taken a house 
situated in three different counties to have avoided the impor- 
tunity of the sheriffs' officers yet he took care to satisfy to 
the letter his performers, and all those with whom he made 
engagements . Dibdin . 



like a leaf, and kept his head down while Ireland jumped ; nor did he 
look up till he had first asked, "Has he done it?" When assured he 
had, he said, " A battle's nothing to that." Records of a Stage Vetei-an. 






53 

Mrs. Porter. 
.... -1762. 

Mrs. Porter was tall, fair, well-shaped, and easy and dignified 
in action. But she was not handsome, and her voice had a 
small degree of tremor. Moreover, she imitated, or, rather, 
faultily exceeded, Mrs. Barry in the habit of prolonging and 
toning her pronunciation, sometimes to a degree verging upon 
a chant; but whether it was that the public ear was at that 
period accustomed to a demi-chant, or that she threw off the 
defect in the heat of passion, it is certain that her general judg- 
ment and genius, in the highest bursts of tragedy, inspired 
enthusiasm in all around her, and that she was thought to be 
alike mistress of the terrible and the tender. Thomas Campbell. 

I remember Mrs. Porter, to whom nature had been niggard 
in voice and face, so great in many parts, as Lady Macbeth, 
Alicia in " Jane Shore," Hermione in the " Distressed Mother," 
and many parts of the kind, that her great action, eloquence 
of look and gesture, moved astonishment; and yet I have 
heard her declare she left the action to the possession of the 
sentiments in the part she performed. Chetwood. 

She excelled greatly in the terrible and the tender the 
great actor Booth speaking in raptures of her Bdvidera and 
Dr. Johnson saying that in the vehemence of tragic acting he 
had never seen her equal. 1 For many years she acted, 
though absolutely a cripple, having had her hip-joint dis- 
located by a fall from her chaise in an encounter with 
a highwayman, whom she terrified into supplication by 
the sight of a brace of pistols. Finding he had been 
driven to desperation by want, she gave him ten guineas, 
and afterwards raised sixty pounds by- subscription for relief of 
his family. In acting Elizabeth in the " Rival Queens " she 
had to support herself on a crutched cane ; and after signing 
Mary's death-warrant, she expressed her agitation by striking the 
stage with her cane so violently as to draw bursts of applause. 
At last she herself subsisted on charity; and Dr. Johnson, 
who paid her a visit of benevolence some years before her 
death, said she was then so wrinkled that a picture of old age 



1 "Mrs. Porter in the vehemence of rage, and Mrs. Clive io the spright* 
liness of humour, I have never seen equalled." Johnson. 



54 Barton Booth. 

in the abstract might have been taken from her countenance. 
Blackwood's Magazine, 1834. 

Mrs. Porter surpassed Garrick in passionate tragedy. 
Walpole. 

Barton Booth. 
1681-1733. 

Booth enters : hark ! the universal peal ! 

" But has he spoken ?" Not a syllable. 

" What shook the stage and made the people stare?" 

Cato's long wig, flower'd gown, and lacquer'd chair. Pope. 

Booth had great advantages from birth and education ; he 
was a relation of the Earl of Warrington, and not far remote 
from the title. He was a scholar, and a man of poetical fancy, 
as his compositions in verse, which are far from mean, will 
testify. His professional merit recommended him to Lord 
Bolingbroke, who was so pleased with his company and con- 
versation that he sent his chariot to the door of the theatre 
every night to convey Booth, after the play was finished, to his 
country seat There was in his look an apparent goodness of 
mind, which struck everybody that saw him. I have heard Mr. 
Delane, the actor, say, that when he entered the Bedford coffee 
house, at a time when it was frequented by men of fashion, he 
attracted the eyes of everybody by the benevolence of his 
aspect, the grandeur of his step, and the dignity of his whole 
demeanour. To sum up his character, he was an actor of 
genius, and an amiable man. T. Davies. 

Barton Booth was an actor of great talent. After Betterton's 
death he was kept back by Wilks in favour of his friend Mills, 
who was a very inferior actor to Booth. When Addison's 
"Cato" was produced, the hero was offered to Gibber, who 
refused it. It was then given to Mills, who declined acting it 
on the ground of its being too old for him. It was then given 
to Booth, who was so eminently successful in the representation 
of the character, as to be universally allowed to be at the head 
of his profession. His popularity was perhaps in some measure 
assisted by the party feeling which the production of the play 
had created. 1 The Manager's Note Book. 



1 "The whole nation," says Johnson, "was at that time on fire with 
faction. The Whigs applauded every line (in the play) in which liberty 



Barton Booth. 55 

Having paused awhile beneath the sumptuous monument of 
Garrick to ponder on his genius and his triumphs, let us 
wander on to the humbler memorial of the scarcely less 
celebrated actor, Barton Booth. He it was who, when he was 
still a thoughtless boy at Westminster school having his head 
turned by the sensation which he created when acting in one 
of Terence's plays quitted the tutorship of Busby, of whom he 
was the favourite pupil, and with apparently no other advan- 
tages but melody of voice, and beauty and elegance of person, 
became by industry and application the great actor, whose 
exquisite delineations of human passions drew down upon him 
the applause of millions in his life-time, and which, after his 
death, procured him the honour of a burial-place in Poet's 
Corner. -Jesse's " London" 

It is remarkable that Booth, who, in the very year Wilks 
left Dublin for Drury Lane, left it also for Lincoln's Inn Fields, 
and who had in Ireland been a pretty free lover of the bottle, 
was, some time after his arrival in London, so shocked at the 
contempt and distress that Powell had plunged himself into by 
the vice of hard drinking, that he instantly made a resolution, 
which he never broke, of utterly abandoning that practice, and 
to this circumstance there can be no doubt but that the world 
is indebted for so admirable an actor. Charles Dibdin. 

In connexion with Betterton's successor, Barton Booth, and 
Cato, of which he was the original representative, there is a 
story told, the application of which tended to place the stage 
on a level with the pulpit. Booth and his gifted fellows went 
down to Oxford to play Addison's famous tragedy before the 
most learned audience in the world. After the third and last 
performance was concluded, Dr. Sandridge, Dean of Carlisle, 
addressed a letter to Barton, in which the writer remarked : "I 
heartily wish all discourses from the pulpit were as instructive 
and edifying, as pathetic and affecting, as that which the 
audience were then entertained with from the stage." Thea- 
trical Anecdotes* 

was mentioned, as a satire on the Tories, and the Tories echoed every clap 
to show that the satire was unfelt. The story of Bolingbroke is well 
known. He called Booth to his box, and gave him fifty guineas for 
defending the cause of liberty so well against a perpetual dictator." I^ife 
of Addison. 

' There is a story that one day, when Betterton called on Archbishop 
Tillotson at Lambeth, the prelate asked him, " How it came about that 
after he had made the most moving discourse that he could, was touched 



56 Mrs. Elizabeth Barry. 

He had a vast fund of understanding as well as good-nature, 
and a persuasive elocution even in common discourse, that 
would compel you to believe him against your judgment of 
things. Notwithstanding his exuberance of fancy, he was 
untainted in his morals. In his younger years he admired 
none of the heathen deities so much as Jolly Bacchus ; to him 
he was very devout ; yet if he drank ever so deep, it never 
marred his study or his stomach. But immediately after his 
marriage with Miss Santlow, whose wise conduct, beauty, and 
winning behaviour so wrought upon him that home and her 
company were his chief happiness, he entirely condemned the 
/oily of drinking out of reason, and from one extreme fell I 
think into the other too suddenly; for his appetite for food 
had no abatement. I have often known Mrs. Booth, out of ex- 
treme tenderness to him, order the table to be removed, for fear 
of overcharging his stomach. His profound learning was extra- 
ordinary. Chetwood's " General History of the Stage" 

He had a talent of discovering the passions where they lay 
hid in some celebrated ' parts by the injudicious practice of 
other actors; when he had discovered, he soon grew able 
to express them ; and his secret for attaining this great lesson 
of the theatre was an adaptation of his looks to his voice, by 
which artful imitation of nature, the variation in the sounds of 
his words gave propriety to every change in his countenance. 
Aaron Hill. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Barry. 
1682-1733. 

Mrs. Barry is said to have been a very elegant dresser ; but, 
like most of her contemporaries, she was not a very correct one. 
Thus in the " Unhappy Favourite " she played Queen Elizabeth, 
and in the scene of the crowning, she wore the coronation 
robes of James II.'s Queen ; and Ewell says she gave the 
audience a strong idea of the first-named Queen. Anne of 
Modena, with the exception of some small details, was dressed 
as little like Elizabeth as Queen Victoria was dressed like 
Anne. Dr. P-oran. 



deeply with it himself, and spoke it as feelingly as he was able, yet he 
could never move people in the church near so much as the other did on 
the stage." "That," answered Betterton, "is easily accounted for. It 
\s because you are only telling them a story and I am shoving them facts." 



Mrs. Elizabetn Barry. 57 

The fame to which Mrs. Barry arrived is a particular proof of 
the difficulty there is of judging with certainty, from their first 
trials, whether young people ever will make any great figure on 
a theatre. There was, it seems, so little hope of her at her first 
setting out, that she was at the end of the year discharged 
the company. I take it for granted that the objection to Mrs. 
Barry must have been a defective ear, or some unskilful dis- 
sonance in her manner of pronouncing. Colley Gibber* 

She was the daughter of Edward Barry, a barrister, who got 
the title of colonel, for having raised a regiment in the cause of 
Charles I. His orphan daughter was born in 1682. She was 
educated by the charity of Lady Davenant, a relation of the 
poet of that name, and by his interest was brought upon the 
boards in 1700. Her first effort was a failure. Two years after- 
wards she reappeared in Otway's " Alcibiades," when her merit 
obtained the thanks of the poet, and drew universal attention." 
In 1707 the part of Monimia in the first representation of the 
" Orphan " drew forth her power to still higher advantage ; and 
two years afterwards her Belvidera in " Venice Preserved " ob- 
tained for her the permanent appellation of fat famous Madam 
Barry. Her fame was not diminished by her appearing as the 
original Isabella in Southerne's " Fatal Marriage ; " and she 
enjoyed perhaps a higher character than any actress anterior to 
Mrs. Siddons. Thomas Campbell. 

Mrs. Barry, always excellent, has in this tragedy excelled 
herself, and gained a reputation beyond any woman I have 
ever seen on a theatre. Dry den, Preface to " Cleomenes" 8 

With all her enchantment this fine creature was not hand- 



1 She was mistress of the notorious Earl of Rochester, and to his 
tuition, it was said, she owed many of the most conspicuous graces of her 
acting. "Mi's. Barry," says Gibber, "in characters of greatness, had a 
presence of elevated dignity ; her mien and motion superb and gracefully 
majestic ; her voice full, clear, and strong, so that no violence of passion 
could be too much for her ; and when distress or tenderness possessed her, 
she subsided into the most affecting melody and softness. In the art of 
exciting pity she had a power beyond all the actresses I have yet seen, or 
what your imagination can conceive." 

8 " Cleomenes," a tragedy, appeared in 1692. With this play the 
Guardian connects the following story of Dryden : As he came one 
night out of the playhouse, a young "fop of fashion" accosted him with, 
" Had I been left alone with a young beauty, I would not have spent my 
time like your Spartan hero. " "That, sir, is perhaps true," answered 
Dryden ; " but give me leave to tell you you are no hero." ED. 



58 Mrs. Oldfield. 

some ; her mouth opening most on the right side, which she 
strove to draw the other way ; and at times composing her face 
as if to have her picture drawn. She was middle-sized, had 
darkish hair, light eyes, and was indifferent plump. She had a 
manner of drawing out her words, which suited her, but not 
Mrs. Bradshaw and Mrs. Porter, her successors. In tragedy 
she was solemn and august ; in comedy alert, easy, and genteel ; 
pleasant in her face and manner, and filling the stage with a 
variety of action. Yet she could not sing, nor dance ; no, not 
even in a country dance. Anthony Aston. 

Mrs. Barry was a fine tragedian, both of the heroic and tender 

cast. Dryden pronounced her the best actress he had seen. 

It is said she was a mistress of Lord Rochester's when young ; 

that it was to her his love-letters were addressed, and that she 

owed her celebrity to his instructions. She was not handsome, 

'and her mouth was a little awry, but her countenance was very 

expressive. This is the actress who, in the delirium of her last 

moments, is said to have alluded in an extempore blank verse to 

a manoeuvre played by Queen Anne's Ministry some time before: 

" Ha, ha ! and so they make us lords by dozens !" 

Leigh Hunt. 

Mrs. Barry in characters of greatness is said to have been 
graceful, noble, and dignified ; that no violence of passion was 
beyond the reach of her feelings, and that in the most melting 
distress and tenderness she was exquisitely affecting. Thus she 
was equally admirable in Cassandra, Cleopatra, Roxana, Mo- 
nimia, or Belvidera. She was the first actress who was indulged 
with a benefit-play, a favour for some time after given only as 
a distinction of merit. C. Dibdin. 

Mrs. Oldfield. 
1683-1730. 

Each look, each attitude, new grace displays, 

Your voice and motion life and music raise. Savage. 1 

The ravishing perfections of this lady are so much the ad- 
miration of every eye and every ear, that they will remain fixed 



1 Savage had reason to speak well of Mrs. Oldfield, for she allowed 
him an annuity during her life of 5o/. Richard Savage, one of the most 
curious characters in English literary history, was the? son of the Countess 



Mrs. Old field. 59 

in the memory of many when these light scenes 1 are forgotten. 
Fielding. 

Mrs. Oldfield had been a year in the Theatre Royal before 
she gave any tolerable hope of her being an actress, so unlike 
to all manner of propriety was her speaking. Colley Gibber. 

She was tallish in stature, beautiful in action and aspect, and 
she always looked like one of those principal figures in the 
finest paintings, that first seize, and longest delight the eye of 
the spectator. Her countenance was benevolent like her heart, 
yet it could express contemptuous indignity so well that once 
when a malignant beau rose in the pit to hiss her, she made 
him instantly hide his head and vanish, by a pausing look, and 
her utterance of the words " poor creature ! " Ibid? 



of Macclesfiekl by the Earl Rivers ; and his birth gave his mother an ex- 
cuse for obtaining a divorce from a man whom she hated. He was born in 
1696 in Fox Court, a low alley out of Holborn, whither his mother had 
repaired, under the name of Mrs. Smith, her features concealed in a mask 
which she wore throughout her confinement. Discovery was embarrassed 
by a complication of witnesses ; the child was handed from one woman to 
another, until, like a story bandied from mouth to mouth, it seemed to lose 
its paternity. The son of an earl, the child was apprenticed to a shoe- 
maker ; but preferring the pen to the awl, he betook himself eventually to 
literature, after having by an accident discovered his origin. He made 
the acquaintance of Steele, who formed a grand design to marry Savage tc 
a natural daughter of his, on whom he meant to settle a thousand pounds. 
How Savage, himself a natural son, might have relished the proposal of a 
natural daughter for a wife cannot be guessed a thousand pounds might 
make even the author of the "Bastard" witness a charm in illegitimacy. 
But neither the natural daughter nor the thousand pounds was ever forth- 
coming. Savage, mortified by the frequent disappointments that attended 
Steele's promises, took an early opportunity to lampoon his friend, and 
his friend very properly cut him. He was as quick, however, at making 
friends as he was at losing them. When he was near dying of starvation, 
a subscription was raised for him, and he was despatched to Wales. He 
pushed as far as Bristol, where he halted ; spent the money he had in 
hand, wrote impudent letters for more, was arrested for debt, and lodged in 
gaol, where he died July 31, 1743. ED. 

1 Preface to "Love in Several Masques." 

" A.vording to Frederick Reynolds, "Mrs. Oldfield was the actress 
whose principal anxiety when dying concerned the arrangement of the 
Unbecoming dress of death." Pope's lines are well known : 

" Odious ! in woollen ! 'twould a saint provoke," 
(Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke ;) 
" No, let a charming chintz and Brussels lace 
Wrap my cold limbs and shade my lifeless face : 
One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead, 
And, Betty give this check a lilLle red." ED. 



6o ' Mrs. Oldfield. 

I imagine Anne Oldfield, though the description of her gives 
us no idea of such majesty as Mrs. Siddons, to have been 
otherwise the most beautiful woman that ever trod the British 
stage. Even indifferent prints of her give us a conception of 
those large, speaking eyes, which she half shut with so much 
archness in comedy, and of the graceful features and spirited 
mien that could put life in tragedy, even into Thomson's 
"Sophonisba." T. Campbell 

She was the daughter of Captain Oldfield, and went to live 
with her aunt, who kept the Mitre Tavern in St. James's Market. 
Here we are told, Captain Farquhar, overhearing Miss Nancy 
read a play behind the bar, was so struck " with the proper 
emphasis and agreeable turn she gave to each character, that he 
swore the girl was cut out for the stage. As she had always 
expressed an inclination for that way of life, and a desire of 
trying her fortune in it, her mother, on this encouragement, the 
next time she saw Captain Vanbrugh (afterwards Sir John), who 
had a great respect for the family, acquainted him with Captain 
Farquhar's opinion, on which he desired to know whether her 
heart was most tragedy or comedy. Miss, being called in, 
informed him that her principal inclination was to the latter, 
having at that time gone through all Beaumont and Fletcher's 
comedies ; and the play she was reading when Captain Farquhar 
dined there having been * The Scornful Lady.' Captain Vari- 
brugh shortly after recommended her to Mr. Christopher Rich, 
who took her into the house at the allowance of fifteen shillings 
per week. However, her agreeable figure and sweetness of 
voice soon gave her the preference, in the opinion of the whole 
town, to all the young actresses of that time ; and the Duke of 
Bedford in particular, being pleased to speak to Mr. Rich in 
her favour, he instantly raised her to twenty shillings per week. 
After which her fame and salary gradually increased till at 
length they both obtained that height which her merit entitled 
her to." The new actress had a silver voice, a beautiful face 
and person, great good nature, sprightliness, and grace, and 
became the fine lady of the stage in the most agreeable sense 
of the word. She also acted heroines of the sentimental order, 
and had an original part in every play of Steele. Leigh Hunt, 
" The Town." 

She always went to the house (i.e., the theatre) in the same 
dress she had worn at dinner, in her visits to the houses of great 
people ; for she was much caressed on account of her general 



Mrs. Oldfield. 61 

merit, and her connexion with Mr. Churchill, the Duke of 
Marl borough's brother ; she used to go to the playhouse in a 
diair, attended by two footmen ; she seldom spoke to any one 
of the actors, and was allowed a sum of money to buy her own 
clothes. General Biographical Dictionary. 

Had her birth placed her in a higher rank of life she had 
rertainly appeared in reality what in this play (Lady />'<// v 
J/t'.//.\// in the " Careless Husband ") she only excellently 
acted an agreeable gay woman of quality, a little too conscious 
of her natural attraction. 1 Women of the first rank might have 
borrowed some part of her behaviour without the least diminu- 
tion of their sense of dignity. Walpole. 

I remember, in her full round of glory in comedy, she used to 
slight tragedy. She would often say, " I hate to have a page 
dragging my train about. Why do they not give Porter these 
parts ? She can put on a better tragedy face than I can." 
When " Mithridates " was revived, it was with much difficulty 
she was prevailed upon to take the part ; but she performed it 
to the utmost length of perfection, and after that she seemed 
much better reconciled to tragedy. What a majestical dignity in 
Cleopatra / and, indeed, in every part that required it. Such a 
finished figure on the stage was never yet seen. Her excellent 
clear voice of passion, her piercing, flaming eye, with manner 
and action suiting, used to make me shrink with awe, and seemed 
to put her monitor Horatio into a mouse-hole. Chetwood. 

The young actress had scarcely appeared on the stage, when 
her wit and beauty captivated the heart of the handsome and 
accomplished Arthur Maynwaring, by whom she had a son, 
who bore the baptismal and surname of his father, and who 
afterwards followed his mother to the grave as chief mourner. 
Maynwaring dying in 1712, of a cold caught by him in visiting 
the Duchess of Marlborough, at St. Albans, Mrs. Oldfield 
shortly afterwards placed herself under the protection of General 
Charles Churchill, the son of an elder brother of the great 
Duke of Marlborough : 



1 Swift is contemptuous enough in his mention of Mrs. Oldfield : ! * I 
was this morning at ten at the rehearsal of Mr. Addison's play called 
'Cato,' which is to be acted on Friday. There was not above half a 
score of us to see it. We stood on the stage, and it was foolish enough to 
see the actors prompted every moment, and the poet directing them ; and 
the drab that acts Catrfs daughter out in the midst of a passionate part, and 
then calling out, 'What's next?' " Journal to Stella^ 1712-13. 



62 Thomas Elrington. 

" None led through youth a gayer life than he. 
Cheerful in converse, smart in repartee ; 
Sweet was his night and joyful was his day, 
He dined with Walpole and with Oldfield lay." 

SIR C. HANBURY WILLIAMS. 

By General Churchill she had also one son, who married 
Lady Mary Walpole, a natural child of Sir Robert, for whom he 
obtained the rank of an earl's daughter. Mrs. Oldfield died on 
the 23rd of October, 1730, at the age of forty-seven. Her con- 
temporaries considered her deserving of burial in Westminster 
Abbey, and accordingly thither her body was borne through the 
very street in which she had formerly lived a humble sempstress. 
Her pall was not only supported by persons of distinction, but her 
remains were suffered to lie in state in the Jerusalem Chamber. 
Her grave is towards the west end of the south aisle of the Abbey, 
between the monuments of Craggs and Congreve, near the 
Consistory Court. Jessds "London" 

This actress seems to have possessed some portion of every 
requisite that characterized the merit of the old school. Her 
performance embraced every description of tragedy and comedy. 
C. Dibdin. 

Thomas Elrington. 
1688-1732. 

This excellent actor was born in June 1688, in London. 
His father having a numerous issue, put his son apprentice to 
an upholder in Covent Garden, where I was first acquainted 
with him. He was early addicted to the drama. I remember, 
when he was an apprentice, we played in several private plays 
together : when we were preparing to act " Sophonisba ; or, 
Hannibal's Overthrow," after I had written out my .part of 
Massiva, I carried him the book of the play to study the part of 
KingMasinissa; I found him finishing a velvet cushion, and gave 
him the book. But alas ! before he could secrete it, his master, 
a hot voluble Frenchman, came in upon us, and the book was 
thrust under the velvet of the cushion. His master, as usual, 
rated him for not working, with a " Morbleu I why a you not 
vark, Tom ?" and stood over him so long, that I saw with some 
mortification the book irrecoverably stitched up in the cushion, 
never to be retrieved till the cushion is worn to pieces. P 



oor 



Thomas Elrington. 63 

Tom cast many a desponding look upon me when he was 
finishing the fate of the play, while every stitch went to both 
our hearts. His master observing our looks, turned to me, and 
with words that broke their necks over each other for haste, 
abused both of us. The most intelligible of his great number of 
words, were/tf^ Pudenges, and the like expressions of contempt. 
But our play was gone for ever ! Another time we were so 
bold as to attempt Shakspeare's " Hamlet," where our ap- 
prentice Tom had the part of the Ghost, father to yo\mg Hamlet. 
His armour was composed of pasteboard neatly painted. The 
Frenchman had intelligence of what we were about, and to our 
great surprise and mortification made one of our audience. 
The Ghost in its first appearance is dumb to Horatio. While 
these scenes passed the Frenchman only muttered between his 
teeth, and we were in hopes his passion would subside ; but 
when our Ghost began his first speech to Hamlet, " Mark me" 
he replied, " Bcgar, me vil mark yoti presently /" and without 
saying any more, beat our poor Ghost off the stage through the 
street, while every stroke on the pasteboard armour grieved the 
auditors (because they did not pay for their seats) insomuch 
that three or four ran after the Ghost and brought him back in 
triumph, with the avenging Frenchman at his heels, who would 
not be appeased till our Ghost promised him never to 
commit the offence of acting again. A promise made like 
many others, never intended to be kept. However, in the last 
year of his time, his rigid master gave him a little more liberty, 
and our young actor played different parts, till he was taken 
notice of by Mr. Keene, an excellent player at that time. He 
was introduced upon the stage in the part of Oroonoko, where 
he met with a good reception in the year 1711. The next 
season he was invited over by Joseph Ashbury, Esq.; and in 
the year 1713, wedded the daughter of that worthy gentle- 
man, by whom he had a numerous issue, particularly three 
sons, who are now alive ; the eldest, Mr. Joseph Elrington, 
who makes a considerable figure on the present theatre here ; 
Mr. Richard Elrington, now of a country company in England ; 
and Mr. Thomas Elrington, the youngest, first an ensign, 
now a lieutenant in Colonel Flemming's regiment in Flanders. 
Mr. Elrington the father, was a true copy of Mr. Verbruggen, 
a very great actor in tragedy and police parts in comedy ; 
but the former had an infinite fund of (what is called low) 



64 Charles Mack tin. 

humour upon the stage. I have seen him perform Don Choleric 
in the " Fop's Fortune" with infinite pleasure ; he entered into 
the true humour of the character, equal to the original, Mr. 
William Penkethman. His voice was manly, strong, and 
sweetly full-toned ; his figure tall, and well-proportioned. His 
eldest son, Mr. Joseph Elrington, is most like him in person 
and countenance. This excellent player succeeded his father- 
in-law, Joseph Ashbury, Esq., in the place of steward of the 
King's Inns ; and the more to establish him in the kingdom, a 
post was given him of fifty pounds a year in the Quit-rent 
Office ; also gunner to the train of artillery, a gift of the Lord 
Mountjoy, father to the present Earl of Blessington. which at 
the death of that noble lord, he got permission to dispose of. 
He was a gentleman of honour, humanity, and extensive good- 
nature, of a facetious, well-mannered conversation, a little too 
desirable for his health, from company of the best condition. 
He was taken ill the very day he was consulting a plan for.a 
new theatre, after the form of that in Drury Lane, London, 
with an eminent builder of this city. He went home, where 
his malady increased to a violent pleuritic fever, which never 
left him (notwithstanding all the physician's art) till he expired, 
July 22nd, 1732. Chetwootfs ''''History of the Stage" 

Charles Macklin. 
1690-1797. 

Macklin, who largely deals in half-form'd sounds, 
Who wantonly transgresses nature's bounds, 
Whose acting's hard, affected, and constrain'd, 
Whose features, as each other they disdained, 
At variance set, inflexible and coarse, 
Ne'er knew the workings of united force, 
Ne'er kindly soften to each other's aid, 
Nor show the mingled powers of light and shade ; 
No longer for a thankless stage concern'd, 
To worthier thoughts his mighty genius turn'd, 
Harangued, gave lectures, made each simple elf 
Almost as good a speaker as himself. 1 Churchill. 



1 He not only "harangued, gave lectures," but started a tavern and 
offee-house in the Piazza, Covent Garden. He made a most ceremonioiu 



. 



Charles Macklin. 65 

At this time Charles Mathews sought an interview with the 
celebrated Chark-s Marklin, who had then attained a hundred 
years and upwards. He had been recommended to recite to 
him for the purpose of gaining the veteran's opinion and 
instructions; and going by appointment to the residence of 
the aged man in Tavistock-row, he found him ready to receive 
him. There was Macklin in his arm-chair; and when the door 
opened, and the youth was announced, he did not attempt to 
rise, nor indeed take any notice of the entrance of the stranger, 
but remained with an arm on either elbow of the chair he sat 
in, looking sour and severe at his expected pupil, who, hesi- 
tating on the threshold, paused timidly, which occasioned the 
centenary to call out, " Come nearer ! What do you stand 
there for? You can't act in the gap of the door." The young 
man approached. " Well," added Macklin, in a voice ill- 
calculated to inspire confidence, " now let me hear you ; don't 
be afraid." His crabbed austerity completely chilled the 
aspirant's ardour ; however, mustering up all the confidence this 
harsh reception had left him, he began to declaim according to 
the approved rule of " speech-days." Macklin, sitting like a 
stern judge waiting to pronounce sentence upon a criminal, 
rather than to laud a hero, soon interrupted the speech with a 
mock imitation of the novice's monotonous tones, barking out, 
" Bow, wow, wow, wow I" 1 Life of Mathews. 

A strange character an Irishman of rough humour and 
ability, a good fives player, and a very promising actor. His 
appearance was very remarkable ; a coarse face, marked not 



affair of his ordinary, bringing in the first dish himself, with a napkin 
over his arm. The price of the dinner was three shillings, including wine. 
When the repast was concluded the company adjourned to the " School of 
Oratory." ED. 

1 Macklin had many pupils, amongst whom was Moss, whose Jew in the 
"Merchant of Venice" was considered inferior only to Kean's. An odd 
story is told of Moss. He was fond of a joke, and acting one night in a 
translation of Moliere's " L'Arare" (The Miser), in rushing about the 
stage distracted at the loss of his gold, he seized the wig from the head of 
M. Nozay, the leader of the orchestra. The reception of Nozay's naked 
head at the hands of the audience may be imagined. Colman avenged 
Nozay by casting Moss for a contemptible character in a new piece. Moss 
returned to the provinces. The old cry of " Play up, Nosey," it is said, 
has its origin in Nozay, though I have seen it attributed to one Cervetto, 
a violoncello player at Drury Lane in 1 753, who was remarkable for HO 
extraordinarily long nose. Ep. 

F 



66 Charles Macklin. 

with " lines," but what a brother actor with rude wit had called 
"cordage." He was struggling hard to get free of a very 
pronounced brogue, and having come to the stage with what 
was to English ears an uncouth name, and to English mouths an 
almost unpronounceable one, had changed it from M'Laughlin 

to Mechlin, and later Macklin He was a most striking and 

remarkable character, and one that stands out very distinctly 
during the whole course of his long career, which stretched 
over nearly ninety years. He was quarrelsome, overbearing, 
even savage ; always, either in revolt or conflict, full of genius 
and a spirit that carried him through a hundred misfortunes. 
P. Fitzgerald. 

His mind was as rough and durable as his body. His 
aspect and address confounded his inferiors, and his delight in 
making others fear and admire him gave him an aversion for 
the society of those who were his superiors. Thomas Holcroft* 

Macklin was celebrated in Shylock, and in some other 
sarcastic parts, particularly that of Sir Archy in his comedy of 
" Love a la Mode." We take him to have been one of those 
actors whose performances are confined to the reflection 
of their own personal peculiarities. The merits of Shuter, 
Edwin, Quick, and others, who succeeded one another as 
buffoons, were perhaps a good deal of this sort ; but pleasant 
humours are rare and acceptable. Macklin was a clever 
satirist in his writings, and embroiled himself, not so cleverly, 
with a variety of his acquaintances. He foolishly attempted 
to run down Garrick ; and once, in a sudden quarrel, poked 
out a man's eye with his stick, and killed him, for which 
he narrowly escaped hanging. However, he was sorry for 
it; and he is spoken of by the stage historians as kind 
in his private relations, and liberal of his purse. Leigh 
Hunt. 

The great excellence of the veteran Macklin drew consider- 
able audiences whenever he appeared at Covent Garden 
Theatre, and he had been announced to perform his own 



1 " Holcroft had been a riding-boy, a shoemaker, and an actor ere he 
became a politician and an author. He was called a bad actor because he 
was not a noisy one ; but I believe old Harris had not brains enough to 
understand him. Had he had sufficient practice, his Touchstone, Autolycus^ 
&c., would have been admirable ; he read these characters inimitably. "~* 
Records of a 



Charles Mack I in. 67 

Shylock 1 on the loth of January, 1788, at the extraordinary 
age of eighty-nine. I went there to compare his performance with 
that of my friend Henderson, whose loss I even still regret ; and 
with some anxiety, and much veneration, secured a station in the 
pit, which none but the young should scuffle about, for it was 
much contested. You first saw the foot of the actor, and thus 
had his full expression and whole figure bearing upon your 

eye It was a little time before my introduction to Macklin; 

and I would not, at that time, miss a repetition of his triumph 

in the Jew Macklin got through the first act with spirit and 

vigour, and except to a very verbal critic, without material 
imperfection. In the second, he became confused, and sensi- 
ble of his confusion. With his usual manliness, and waiting 
for no admonition from others, he advanced to the front of the 
stage, and with a solemnity in his manner that became 
extremely touching, thus addressed his audience : " Ladies 
and gentlemen, within these few hours I have been seized with 
a terror of mind I never in my life felt before ; it has totally 
destroyed my corporeal as well as mental faculties. I must, 
therefore, request your patience this night a request which an 
old man of EIGHTY-NINE years of age may hope is not unreason- 
able." Should it be granted, unless my health is totally re- 
established, you may depend upon it this will be the last night 
of my ever appearing before you in so ridiculous a Situation." 
Thus dignified, even in his wreck, was that great man, whom 
Pope had immortalized by a compliment, and whose humanity 
Lord Mansfield had pronounced to be at least equal to his skill 
as an actor. He recovered with the general applause of the 
audience, 'and got through the play by great attention frori the 
prompter and his assistant. Boaden. 



1 On Macklin's Shylock Pope wrote the well-known couplet : 

" This is the Jew 
That Shakspeare drew." ED. 

8 During the rehearsal of Macbeth by Macklin, when he was in the 
seventy-fifth year of his age, he was so prolix and tedious in the rehearsal 
of his character, as well as in his instructions to the other actors, that 
Shuter exclaimed, "The case was very hard, for the time has been that 
when the brains were out the man would die, and there an end." 
Macklin, overhearing him, answered, "Ah, Ned, and the time was that 
when liquor was in wit was out, but it is not so with thee." Shutef 
rejoined, "Now, now thou art a man again." Percy 

F 2 



68 Charles Macklin. 

I did not meet with this great original till he was in the 
winter of his life ; but I have heard some contemporaries assert 
that to the manner he conjoined a considerable portion of the 
matter of Dr. Johnson. 1 On the truth or falsehood of this 
declaration, I cannot pronounce ; but of his Shylock, as I have 
seen it various times, I can venture boldly to assert that for 
identity of character from the first scene to the last, probably as 
a performance it was never surpassed. Frederick Reynolds. 

Macklin was tenacious, and very properly so, of the per- 
formers throwing in words of their own. Lee Lewes one morn- 
ing at Covent Garden, at the rehearsal of " Love a la Mode," in 
which he played Squire Groom, said something which he 
thought very smart. " Hoy ! hoy !" said Macklin, " what's 
that ?" " Oh," replied Lee Lewes, " 'tis only a little of my 
nonsense." " Ay," replied Macklin, " but I think my nonsense 
is rather better than yours, so keep to that if you please, sir." 
J. VKeefe? 

Macklin, whose writing was as harsh and as hard as his 
conduct was rude and dogmatic, who, though he did not 
produce many pieces, contrived to make one answer the 
purpose of many, whose strange peculiarities made him a 
torment to himself and to everybody else, was, however, a useful, 
and sometimes a great actor, and very far from an inferior 
author. C. Dibdin. 



1 Rude he was, but generally witty with it. Once at a dinner party, 
being rather the worse (or better) for wine, he suddenly turned and violently 
clapped an Irish clergyman on the back. "Now, sir," he cried, "what 
is your opinion of Terence's plays ?" The clergyman, half confounded by 
the blow, and the vehemence with which the question had been put, 
answered, in a rich brogue, "What! do you mean his Latin edition?" 
"Do you think," replied Macklin, giving him another hearty blow, "do 
you think I meant his Irish edition ? and be d to you !" ED. 

2 Macklin was particularly proud of this play. Once a country manager 
produced it at his theatre, upon which, says O'Keefe, Macklin wrote him 
word that if he did not withdraw it, "he would send him sheets of parch- 
ment that would reach from Chancery-lane to the next goosebeny-bush the 
nearest verge of Yorkshire, to John O'Groat's house. The manager's 
answer to Macklin ran thus: " Your 'Love a la Mode,' sir! I'm not 

fing to play your ' Love a la Mode.' I'll play my cnvn ' Love a la Mode.' 
have twenty * Love a la Modes.' I could write a ' Love a la Mode ' 
every day in the week. I could write three hundved and sixty-six ' Love a 
la Modes' in a year !" Ep. 



I 



John Evans. 
1692-1734. 

This person was an actor of very good repute in this kingdom,* 
joined in the management with Mr. Thomas Elrington, Mr. 
Thomas Griffith, &c. His person was inclinable to the gross, 
therefore wanted delicacy for the amiable parts ; he had an ex- 
cellent harmonious voice, and just delivery, but a little too 
indolent for much study or contemplation. In the last 
year of the reign of Queen Anne, the company of Dublin 
went down in the summer season to play at Cork. One 
evening Mr. Evans was invited by some officers of a regiment, 
then on duty in that city, to a tavern. Many healths were 
proposed, and went round without reluctance ; when it came to 
Mr. Evans's turn, he proposed the health of her Majesty 
Queen Anne, which so much disgusted one of the company 
(though clothed in the livery of his royal mistress), that he ran 
downstairs and sent up a drawer to whisper to Mr. Evans, 
who immediately put on his sword and went after him, without 
taking the least notice to the company. He found his an- 
tagonist in a room in the passage of the tavern, with the door 
half open, who courageously made a thrust at Mr. Evans, which 
he put by with his left hand ; at this, Mr. Evans drew, thrust 
the door wide open, entered, and soon drove his opposer out 
to the passage, where he disarmed the doughty hero, before the 
company above stairs knew anything of the matter. The rest 
of the military gentlemen expressed an abhorrence to the treat- 
ment Mr. Evans received, and seemingly reconciled them on 
the spot ; but notwithstanding, when the company returned to 
Dublin, the person who sent the challenge upstairs at Cork, 
being then returned also, told his own story in such a manner 
that several warm gentlemen of the army were made to believe 
that Mr. Evans had affronted the whole body military ; and 
when the poor supposed culprit came to his business of the 
theatre, their clamour in the audience was so great that the 
house was dismissed, and no play to be acted till Mr. Evans 
had asked public pardon upon the stage. His high spirit was 
with great difficulty brought to submit, but at last he consented. 
I remember the play was " The Rival Queens ; or, the Death 

1 Ireland. 



70 James Quin. 

of Alexander the Great," the part of Alexander to be played by 
the delinquent. He came to ask pardon before the curtain. 
When he addressed the audience, one Smart from the pit, cried 
out, " Kneel, you rascal !" Evans then collected in himself, 
replied in the same tone of voice, " No, you rascal, I'll kneel 
to none but God and my Queen !" a dangerous paroxysm at 
such a crisis. However, as there were many worthy gentlemen 
of the army who knew the whole affair, the new-raised clamour 
ceased, and the play went through without any molestation, 
and by degrees things returned to their proper channel. By 
this we may see it is some danger for an actor to be in the 
right. Three years after this affair, Mr. Evans went to the 
theatre in Lincoln's-inn-fields, and in his journey back to 
Ireland was taken ill of a fever at the town of Whitchurch 
in Shropshire, from whence he was removed for better advice 
to Chester, where he ended his progress of life, in the forty- 
first year of his age, and was privately buried in the 
cathedral, without monument, stone, or inscription. Chet- 
woods "History of the Stage" 

James Quin. 
1693-1766. 

In fancied scenes, as in life's real plan, 
He could not for a moment sink the man. 
In whate'er cast his character was laid, 
Self still, like oil, upon the surface played. 
Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in : 
Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff still 'twas Quin. 1 

Churchill. 

Quin killed Bowen in 1717. The former had declared that 
Ben Jonson acted Jacomo, in "The Libertine," better than 
Bowen. The latter pursued Quin to a tavern, shut the door of 



1 The style of acting in Quin's day may be gathered from a curious 
notice of Garrick's acting, quoted by Fitzgerald in his " Life of Garrick." 
"Garrick's voice," it says, "was neither whining, bellowing, nor 
grumbling, but perfectly easy in its transitions, natural in its cadence, and 

beautiful in its elocution He never drops his character when he has 

finished a speech, by either looking contemptuously on an inferior performer, 
unnecessary spitting, or suffering his eyes to wander through the whole circle 
of spectators." By what he did not do we are made to see what the others 
did. ED. 



James Quin. 71 

the room in which he found him, placed his back against the 
door, and threatened to pin Quin to the wainscot if he did not 
immediately draw. Quin remonstrated, but drew, and kept on 
the defensive ; whilst the impetuous Bowen pressed so upon his 
adversary that he actually fell upon that adversary's sword and 
died, after acknowledging his own rashness. Quin was tried 
and acquitted. 1 ^/-. Doran, " Table Traits? 

.... I became a favourite with the Duke and Duchess of 
Leeds, where I recollect often meeting the famous actor, Mr. 
( v )uin, who taught me to speak Satan's speech to the sun in 
" Paradise Lost." When they took me to see him act Cato, I 
remember making him a formal courtesy, much to the Duchess's 
amusement, perhaps to that of the player. Piozzfs " Memoirs" 

Quin (as Sir George Beaumont told me) was once at a very 
small dinner-party. The master of the house, pushing a deli- 
cious pudding towards Quin, begged him to taste it. A gentle- 
man had just before helped himself to an immense piece of it. 
" Pray," said Quin, looking first at the gentleman's plate and 
then at the dish, " which is the pudding ?" S. Rogers 's " Table 
Talk." 

Quin's position, long the established tragedian, and in com- 
mand of the town, was cruelly affected by Garrick's success. 
He was at once thrust down and deposed. There was fatal 
truth in the hypothesis he threw out in his first burst of disgust, 
" If this young fellow be right, then we have been all wrong." 
He secretly believed that they were right, and therefore the 
" young fellow" was wrong. But, alas ! the public were decid- 
ing the question rapidly, and without any question of delicacy. 
Such dethronements have been always carried out with the 
rudeness of a coup d'etat. So sudden and mortifying a desertion 
is always terribly incident to the actor's lot ; this was the third 
time he had experienced this rude shock. On Booth's death 
he had reigned supreme; when. suddenly arose Delane, and 



1 In the " Percy Anecdotes," that most amusing, if not always veracious 
collection, I find this anecdote : " The consummate epicurism and coarse 
manners of Quin, the actor, often rendered him a very disagreeable guest. 
Dining one day with the Duchess of Marlborough, her Grace, to his great 
surprise, helped herself to the leanest part of a haunch of venison which 
stood near her. ' What !' said Quin ; ' does your Grace eat no fat ?' 
'Not of veniscn, sir.' 'Never, my Lady Duchess?' 'Never, I assure 
you.' Too much affected to restrain his genuine sentiments, the epicure 
exclaimed, ' I like to dine with such fools.' " 



72 James Quin. 

Quin found himself deserted. Again, Macklin's success had 
brought a fresh abandonment. Yet there was a bluff honesty 
about Quin even to dignity in the way in which he set him* 
self to do battle for his throne ; when he found himself fairly 
beaten, he gave up the struggle, and, for a time at least, retired. 
He had no animosity to his conqueror, and could later become 
liis warm friend. Fitzgerald. 

Mark one who tragical struts up and down, 

And rolls the words as Sisyphus his stone. 
His labouring arms, unequal to the weight, 
Heave like a porter's when at Billingsgate. 

A Clear Stage and No Favour. 1 

That tongue which set the table in a roar, 

And charm'd the public ear, is heard no more : 

Clos'd are those eyes, the harbinger of wit, 

Which spake before the tongue what Shakspeare writ 

Cold is that hand which, living, was stretch'd forth 

At Friendship's call to succour modest worth. 

Here lies James Quin. Garrick. 

Quin presented himself, upon the rising of the curtain, in a 
green velvet coat embroidered down the seams, an enormous 
full-bottom periwig, rolled stockings, and high-heeled, square- 
toed shoes. With very little variation of cadence, and in a 
deep, full tone, accompanied by a sawing kind of action, 
which had more of the senate than of the stage in it, he rolled 
out his heroics with an air of dignified indifference that seemed 
to disdain the plaudits that were bestowed upon him. R. 
Cumberland. 

To Mr. Quin's various excellencies in acting I have en- 
deavoured to do equal justice ; and in general we have authority 
to say, that to his various parts in comedy may be added no 
mean list of dignified characters in tragedy, where sentiment 
and gravity of action, and not passion, predominated. He 
had so happy an ear for music, and was so famous for singing 
with ease a common ballad or catch, that Gay was persuaded 
to offer him the part of Macheath, in the " Beggars' Opera ;" but 

after a short trial of his abilities, Quin gave it up Mr. Booth 

gave ample testimony to his elocution ; for having seen him act 
the part of the Duke, in " Measure for Measure," he declined 



1 A satire on the contest between Quin and Garrick. ED. 



Quin. 



73 



reviving the play, and acting that character, though pressed to 
it by Wilks and Cibber. Booth declared he would never, if 
he could avoid it, hazard a comparison between himself and 
Quin. T. Davies. 1 

Quin's Jfa/staf must have been glorious, and the tradition of 
it places Quin very high, for it seems to be the most difficult of 
all characters to sustain. Since Garrick there have been more 
than one Richanl, J la inlet, Romeo, Macbeth, and Lear] but 
since Quin only one J'li/s/it/f ( Henderson). Quin seemed born 
to play it. He was convivial ; and when carrying the dead 
Hotspur (Garrick) off the stage, he would say to him, " Where 
shall we sup ?" He was satiric, and had much of Falstaffs wit \ 
but in him it was the appendage of a noble nature. C. It. Leslie. 

Quin in ^//j/j^'was as excellent as Garrick in Lear. H. 
Walpole? 

1 Davies gives an illustration of Quin's acting. " When Lothario gave 
Horatio the challenge, instead of accepting it instantly, with the deter- 
mined and unembarrassed bow of superior bravery, Quin made a long 
pause, and dragged out the words : 

' I'll meet thee there!' 

in such a manner as to make it appear absolutely ludicrous. He paused so 
Jong before he spoke, that somebody, it was said, called out from the gal- 
lery, ' Why don t you tell the gentleman whether you'll meet him or not ?' " 
* The opinions of Walpole are to be received with caution, for he is 
never in earnest. His cynicism is ingenious, but his portraits are over- 
charged with it. They are caricatures. The truth is, Walpole was a man 
of weak parts, though of some wit. In his letters he exhibits a misan- 
thropy not radically inherent, but very sedulously cultivated. Those 
whom he admired he admired too ambitiously, so that while his readers 
laugh over his wit, they are always haunted by a suspicion that they are 
doing honour to some other man's intelligence. Besides being a laborious 
cynic, Horace was a coxcomb and an egotist. His wit he imitated from 
George Selwyn ; his learning he borrowed from the poet Gray. As a 
critic he was contemptible enough. He sneered at Bishop Berkeley, a 
man whom Atterbury pronounced an angel, and whom even the morose 
and cynical Swift honoured for his genius ; he sneered at Johnson, whom 
he called a gigantic pedant, brutal and dogmatic, without parts and with- 
out learning ; he sneered at Boswell's biography, which has been pro- 
nounced the best memoir that was ever written ; he sneered at Akenside, 
whose poem "To Curio" RIacaulay praises as exhibiting a power that in 
time might have rivalled Dryden, and whose " Ode to Lord Huntingdon" 
has passages nobler than anything to be found in Collins or Gray ; he 
sneered at Thomson, whose "Seasons" indicate a genius not inferior to 
Wordsworth's in its attentive admiration of nature, whilst the history of 
poetry in England exhibits nothing more exquisitely beautiful in descrip- 
tion and melodious in language than the "Castle of Indolence." He 



74 James Quin. 

With double force th' enlivened scene he wakes, 
Yet quits not nature's bounds. He knows to keep 
Each due decorum. Now the heart rue shakes, 
And now with well-urged sense th' enlighten'd judgment takes. 

Thomson's " Castle of Indolence" 

Quin has hardly had justice rendered to his good works. 
We are apt to think of this great player, who lived a good deal 
according to the jolly fashion of his rather too jolly days, as a 
mere imbiber of claret, and the most unctuous of Falstaffs. 
But in offices of charity, rendered with exquisite delicacy, Quin's 
active life wears a very different aspect. How refined was the 
manner in which he forced upon penniless Thomson a hundred 
pounds ! It was a debt, he said, which he owed the poet for 
the pleasure he had experienced in reading his poems ! What 
generous humour in his reply to half-starved Winston (for 
whom he had procured an engagement, and an outfit, to enable 
him to enter on it with decency), who timidly asked, under the 
impulse of hunger, what he should do for a little ready money 
for the next few days. " Nay," exclaimed Quin, " if you're in 
want of money, you must put your hand in your own pocket !" 
And when Winston did so, after Quin had left, he found a io/. 
note, which Quin had placed there ! Cornhill Magazine, 
" The Saints of the Stage," 1867. 

Quin, though he must have been an actor of greater understand- 
ing and more mind than Macklin, was still in stilts, and proved 
that though acting comprehends the whole of oratory, oratory 
by no means comprehends the whole of acting. Greatness 
and dignity Quin is universally allowed to have possessed ; for 
a correct and commanding understanding, and a thorough and 
discriminating power of expressing the sense of an author, I 
have always understood he never had a superior. We are told, 
and I do not dispute the truth of the assertion, that his manner 
of utterance was so just, and had such a display of that feeling 
which the sentiment he pronounced conveyed to his mind, that 
he transferred an equal sensation of pleasure and conviction to 
his auditors. C. Dibdin. 

It will perhaps be scarcely credited, yet it is most solemnly 



sneered at Garrick, at Fielding, at Goldsmith ; he spoke contemptuously 
of Dryden, of Waller, and of Milton. Gray he admired rather for his 
literature than his poetry ; but he thought Mason a very fine poet, and 
Hannah More superior to Goldsmith as a prose- writer. ED. 



y antes Quin. 75 

true, that we have seen Mr. Quin, when at least sixty years old, 
and of such corpulence as to weigh twenty stone, roll on for the 
young Chamont) in " The Orphan," in a suit of clothes heavy 
enough for Othello: a pair of stiff-topped white gloves, then 
only worn by attendants on a funeral, an old-fashioned major- 
wig, and black stockings ; yet odd as this external appearance 
may seem, his performance was not one jot less so ; and with- 
out exaggeration we may assert that there never was anything 
so like burlesque as the veteran's dronish apology for the 
juvenile soldier. Dramatic Censor, vol. 2. 

A single slip in the unlucky, but popular tragedy of " Cato," 
cost a little Welsh actor his life. His name was Williams. 
Playing JDecius to Quin's Cato, at the Lincoln's Inn Fields 
Theatre, in 1718, he entered with " Ca3sar sends health to 
Cato ;" but he pronounced the last name affectedly, mincing it 
into something like " Keeto." Quin, who gave a broad clas- 
sical enunciation to the letter a in the word, was offended, and 
instead of replying, 

" Could he send it 
To Cato's slaughtered friends, it would be welcome," 

he exclaimed " Would he had sent a better messenger." The 
fiery little Welshman was bursting with rage ; and when Cato 
resumed with, " Are not your orders to address the Senate ?" 
he could hardly reply, " My business is with" it would come 
" * Keeto.' " Ten times in the short scene he had to repeat the 
name, and Quin nearly as often ; but the latter gave it a broad 
sound, and delivered it with a significant look which almost 
shook the little actor off his feet, and did shake all the sides of 
the house with inextinguishable laughter. When they met in 
the green-room, the Welshman, triply armed by having just 
ground of complaint, assailed Quin for rendering him ridiculous 
in the eyes of the audience. Quin said it was in their ears, 
and would have laughed the matter off. But the soul of Wil- 
liams would not stoop to such treatment, and after the play he 
lay in wait for Quin under the Piazza as Cato passed that way 
to take his punch. The older actor laughed as Williams drew 
his sword, and bade Quin defend himself. The latter would 
have sustained defence with his cane, but the angry Welshman 
thrust so fiercely that the other was fain to draw his rapier, 
which speedily, but without malice or intention on the part of 
the wielder, passed clear through the poor player's body. 
Dedus was stretched dead on the pavement, and Cato looked 



76 Lacy Ryan. 

on bewildered. Here was a man slain, and all for the mis- 
pronunciation of a vowel ! The tragedy brought Quin to the 
bar of the Old Bailey ; but the catastrophe was laid rather to 
the fashion of wearing swords than to the drawing them with evil 
purpose ; and Quin was freed from censure, but not from sad 
memories. Dramatic Anecdotes. 

Lacy Ryan. 
1694-1770. 

The first part he was taken notice of in was that of Marcus in 
" Cato," which was first acted in 1712. In the run of that 
celebrated tragedy he was accidentally brought into a fray with 
some of our Tritons on the Thames ; and in the scuffle a blow 
on the nose was given him by one of these water-bullies, who 
neither regard men nor manners. I remember the same 
night, as he was brought on the bier after his supposed death in 
the fourth act of " Cato," the blood from the real wound in the 
face gushed out with violence ; that hurt had no other effect 
than just turning his nose a little, though not to deformity, yet 
some people imagined it gave a very small alteration to the tone 
of his voice, though nothing disagreeable. He acquitted 
himself in many capital parts, both in tragedy and comedy, to 
the satisfaction of his auditors, and has ever been esteemed in 
the first rank of actors. Chetwood's "History of the Stage" 

From him succeeding Richards 1 took the cue, 
And hence his style, if not the colour, drew. F&ote. 

He had, with some slight extravagance, excellent judgment, 

sense, and feeling In scenes where comedy trenched upon 

the domain of the sister muse, by the exhibition of profound 
emotion, Ryan was very great ; and probably no actor has so 
nearly resembled him in this respect as Mr. Robson, whose 
origin is as modestly respectable as Ryan's was. They who 
can recollect Elliston, as he played, in his latter days, the genial 
Rover, may have some idea of what Ryan was when he grew 
old, in Captain Plume namely, defiant of age, and full of the 
natural assumption of a spirit that seemed backed by the 



1 Garrick is said to have borrowed some of the ideas suggested by 
Ryan's Richard HI., and to have enlarged upon them. ED. 



Lacy Ryan. 77 

strength which was not there, but which had a substitute in 
irresistible good-will. Dr. Doran. 

Justice has scarcely been done to Ryan's merit. Garrick 
once going with Woodward to see his Richard with a view of 
being amused, owned that he was astonished at the genius and 
power he saw struggling to make itself felt through the burden 
of ill-training, uncouth gestures, and an ungraceful and slovenly 
figure. He was generous enough to own that all the merit there 
was in his own playing of /vVV///;v/, he had drawn from studying 
this less fortunate player. P. Fitzgerald. 

Mr. Ryan had enjoyed a kind of prescriptive claim to all the 
lovers in tragedy and fine gentlemen in comedy, at the theatres 
in Lincoln's-inn-fields and Covent-garden, for nearly thirty 
years. In a conversation which I had with him some years 
before his death, he told me that he began the trade of acting 
when he was a boy of about sixteen or seventeen years of age ; 
and that one of his first parts, which was suddenly put into his 
hand, in the absence of a more experienced player, was Seyton, 
an old officer in the tragedy of " Macbeth," when Betterton 
acted the principal character. As Betterton had not seen Ryan 
before he came on the stage, he was surprised at the sight of a 
boy in a large full-bottom wig, such as our judges now wear on 
the bench. However, by his looks he encouraged him to go 
on with what he had to say ; and when the scene was over he 
commended the actor, but reproved old Downs, the prompter, 
for sending a child to him instead of a man advanced in years. 
The first dawn of his good fortune was the distinction paid him 
by Mr. Addison, who selected him from the tribe of young 
actors to play the part of Marcus in " Cato." The author and 
his friend Steele invited him to a tavern some time before 
the play was acted, and instructed him in his part. The old 
gentleman felt an honest pleasure in recollecting that early 
mark of favour bestowed on him by men of such eminence. 
Thomas Davies. 

Ryan is spoken of in terms of the warmest praise by his 
biographer, who fancying himself obliged to write nevertheless 
in the language of candour, confesses, while he speaks of his 
person and features as the model of symmetry and perfection, 
that having first received a blow on the nose in one affray, 
which turned it out of its place, and a brace of pistol-bullets in 
his mouth in another, which broke his jaw, these accidents so 
discomposed his voice that he became a most ridiculous object 



78 Thomas Walker. 

of imitation, but that he remained a very deserving stage 
tavourite to the last. It is universally acknowledged that he 
was a very sensible man and a most respectable member of 
society, and upon this account he was probably encouraged 
greatly beyond his professional merit. Nobody seems to have 
known this better, than Quin, who, in the most friendly manner, 
after he had retired from the stage, performed Falstaff regularly 
for his benefit once a year, till he himself took a hint from 
nature and found that his deception would not do. In short, 
in spite of whatever may be said by those who, from the best 
intentions in the world, wish well to the reputation of Ryan, 
he never could have ranked on the stage as an actor of first- 
rate abilities. C. Dibdin. 

Thomas Walker. 

1698-1744. 

In the early part of his life, when he first appeared at Drury- 
lane, he was taken notice of by Booth, who thought him 
worthy of his countenance and instruction. He had from 
nature great advantages of person and voice. His countenance 
was manly and expressive, which may be seen in a mezzotinto 
of him in the part of Macheath? which is very like him. The 
humour, ease, and gaiety he assumed in this character 
established his own reputation, and was one great support 
of the " Beggars' Opera." He knew no more of music than 
barely singing in tune ; and indeed, his singing was supported 
by his inimitable action, by his speaking to the eye, not 
charming the ear. In several parts of tragedy Walker's 
look, deportment, and action gave a distinguished glare to 
tyrannic rage and uncommon force to the vehemence of 
anger. T. Davies. 

Quin himself had so bad an opinion of the " Beggars' 
Opera" that he refused the part of Captain Machcath, and 
gave it to Walker, who acquired great celebrity by his grave 
yet animated performance of it. Boswell. 

Tom Walker, the original Macheath, was the famous 
Massinello, the fisherman of Naples, in Tom D'Urfey's farce, 
performed at the theatre, Lincoln's-inn-fields. Poor Walker 



He was the original Macheath in "The Beggars' Opera,," 



Henry Giffard. 79 

<vas a great humorist, a member of many convivial clubs, who 
shortened liis life by long drinking. Wine and Walnuts? 

In his youth he was a very promising actor. The part of 
Charles in the " Nonjuror," gave him the first establishment as 
an actor. The applause he gained from performing the part of 
Machcath in the "Beggars' Opera" was fatal to him. He 
followed Bacchus too ardently, insomuch that his credit was 
often drowned upon the stage, and by degrees almost rendered 
him useless. Chctivood. 

Henry Giffard. 
1699- 

This gentleman was descended from an ancient family, origi- 
nally in Buckinghamshire. His father had a numerous issue, 
he being the last of eight sons. He was born in London, in 
1699. In the year 1716, he was made a clerk to the South 
Sea Company, in which post he remained three years. But 
having a strong propensity to the stage, he first appeared in 
public on the theatre in Bath, in 1719, and, in two years' 
probation, he made such progress that the manager of 
Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre invited him to join his company, 
where he continued two years more. From thence he went to 
try his fortune in Ireland, where his merit soon brought him 
into the management. During his stay there, he married 
the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lydal, persons that made 
very good figures in the theatre. This gentlewoman died 
in child-bed very young, leaving behind her one son, born 
in his father's house on the North Strand, wh(3 is now an 
actor in this kingdom. Some years after Mr. Giffard mar- 
ried a second wife, who is now alive. She has an amiable 
person, and is a well-esteemed actress, both in tragedy 
and comedy ; born, if I am not misinformed by her mother, 
the widow Lydal, in the year 1711. Mr. Giffard and 
spouse, if I mistake not, came over to England 1730, 
where they supported a company of comedians, then 
under the management of Mr. Odell, now deputy-licenser 



1 Leigh Hunt speaks of "Wine and Walnuts" as "an antiquarian 
fiction, but not entirely such." The book is full gf amusing a.nec,d.Qtes, but 
narrated in a dull, old -fashioned style.. -^Ep, 



So John Thurmond. 

of plays under the Lord Chamberlain, his Grace the Duke of 
Grafton. Mr. Odell, from not understanding the management 
of a company (as, indeed, how should any one, that is not, in 
some sort, brought up to that knowledge ?) soon left it to Mr. 
Giffard, that did ; who, in the year 1733, caused to be built an 
entire new, beautiful, convenient theatre, by the same architect 
with that of Covent Garden ; where dramatic pieces were 
performed with the utmost elegance and propriety. Some 
years after he was obliged to quit that theatre (I may say 
by oppression), and occupied the vacant theatre in Lincoln's- 
inn-fields. But his success did not answer his merit. From 
Shence he transplanted himself into the Theatre Royal in 
Drury-lane. Chetivood's " History of the Stage" 

John Thurmond. 
1700-1749. 

He was an actor of repute in this kingdom about thirty years 
past, and stood in many capital parts, being then a sharer in 
old Smock Alley Theatre with Mr. Thomas Elrington, &c. 
To let you see how formerly even tragedy heroes were 
now and then put to their shifts, I'll tell you a short 
story that befel Mr. Thurmond. It was a custom, at that 
time, for persons of the first rank and distinction to 
give their birth-day suits to the most favoured actors. I 
think Mr. Thurmond was honoured by General Ingoldsby 
with his. But his finances being at the last tide of ebb, 
ine rich suit was put in buckle (a cant word for forty in 
the hundred interest). One night, notice was given that the 
general would be present with the Government at the play, and 
all the performers on the stage were preparing to dress out in 
the suits presented. The spouse of Johnny (as he was com- 
monly called) tried all her arts to persuade Mr. Holdfast, the 
pawnbroker (as it fell out, his real name) to let go the clothes 
for that evening, to be returned when the play was over. But 
all arguments were fruitless ; nothing but the ready, or a pledge 
of full equal value. Such people would have despised a 
Demosthenes, or a Cicero, with all their rhetorical flourishes, if 
their oratorian gowns had been in pledge. Well ! what must 
be done ? The whole family in confusion, and all at their 
wit's end ; disgrace, with her glaring eyes and extended mouth, 






Dennis Delane. 8 1 

ready to devour. Fatal appearance ! At last Winny, the wife 
(that is, Winnifrede), put on a composed countenance (but, alas ! 
with a troubled heart) ; stepped to a neighbouring tavern, and 
bespoke a very hot negus, to comfort Johnny in the great part 
he was to perform that night, begging to have the silver 
tankard with the lid, because, as she said, a covering, and the 
vehicle silver, would retain heat longer than any other metal. 
The request was complied with, the negus carried to the play- 
house piping hot popped into a vile earthen mug the 
tankard Fargent travelled incog, under her apron (like the 
Persian ladies veiled), popped into the pawnbrok :r's hands, in 
exchange for the suit put on, and played its pan, With the rest 
of the wardrobe ; when its duty was over, earned back to 
remain in its old depository the tankard returned the right 
road ; and, when the tide flowed with its lunar influence, the 
stranded suit was wafted into' safe harbour again, after paying a 
little for dry docking, which was all the damages received 
Mr. Thurmond died in London, when he was one of the 
company in Drury Lane Theatre; a merry, good-natured 
companion to the last. ChetwoocFs "History of the Stage" 

Dennis Delane. 

1700-1753. 

Mr. Dennis Delane was a native of Ireland, descended from 
an ancient family. He first appeared on the Dublin stage and 
was very well received ; his person and excellent voice, joined 
with his other merits, gained him the esteem he justly de- 
served. However, he set out for London, where he was recom- 
mended to the managers of Drury-lane, I think, in the year 
1731 ', but their company being brimful, even to the running 
over, the managers did not give him the encouragement that 
the promise of his voice and person deserved. Mr. Giffard 
took hold of the occasion, and engaged him for his theatre in 
Goodman's-fields, where he had a better opportunity of shining 
without any rival ray. Mr. Quin, as I am informed (who can 
distinguish merit from his own superior judgment), prevailed 
upon him to leave that corner of the town, and act on the 
same stage with him, Covent-garden. Chetwood's " History of 
Vie Staged 

Delane's person and voice were well adapted to the parts he 

G 



82 Charles Hulet. 

generally acted ; Alexander the Great was his most admired 
and followed part, and his success in that character brought him 
from Goodamn's-fields to the more critical audience of Covent- 
garden. He had natural requisites which, with judgment and 
assiduity, would have rendered him a favourite actor ; but his 
attachment to the bottle prevented him from rising to any 
degree of excellence. I think his chief merit was not generally 
understood. His address and manner were easy and polite ; 
and he excelled more in the well-bred man, in a Bevil in the 
" Conscious Lovers" and a Manly in the " Provoked Husband," 
than in those parts which pushed him into notice. T. Davies. 

Charles Hulet. 
1701-1736. 

He was born in the year 1701, and was by his father put 
prentice to a bookseller. By reading of plays in his master's 
shop, he used to repeat speeches in the kitchen in the evening, 
to the destruction of many a chair, which he substituted in the 
room of real persons in his drama. One night, as he was 
repeating the part of Alexander with his wooden representative 
of Clytus (an old elbow-chair), and coming to the speech where 
the old general is to be killed, this young mock Alexander 
snatched a poker instead of a javelin, and threw it with such 
strength against poor Clytus that the chair was killed upon the 
spot, and lay mangled on the floor. The death of Clytus 
made a monstrous noise, which disturbed the master in the 
parlour, who called out to know the reason ; and was answered 
by the cook below, " Nothing, sir, but that Alexander has 
killed Clytus" His master, Mr. Edmund Curll, finding his 
inclination so strong for the stage, agreed to let him try his 
fortune there. He had a most extraordinary melodious voice, 
strong and clear ; and in the part of Macheath in the " Beggars' 
Opera " he was allowed to excel the original. Then he was an 
excellent mimic, if excellency may be joined to mimickry. He 
took a little too much pride in the firmness of his voice ; for he 
had an odd custom of stealing unperceived upon a person and 
with a hem ! in his ear, deafen him for some time with the 
strength and loudriess of his voice. Yet this customary folly 
(for folly it may be justly called) proved his fate ; for the last 
hern ! he gave broke a blood-vessel, which was the cause of his 



II 



Thcophilns Gibber. 83 

death four-and-t\venty hours after. He was a great benefactor 
to the malt-tax, which, in my opinion, was the cause of that 
mountain of flesh he was loaded with. Chetwood. 

Mr. Charles Hulet was endowed with great abilities for a 
player ; but laboured under the disadvantage of a person rather 
too corpulent for the hero or the lover ; but his port well be- 
came Henry VII L, Falstaff, &c., and many other characters, 
both tragedy and comedy, in which he would have been equally 
excellent had his application and figure been proportionable to 
his qualifications, which, had he duly cultivated, he would have 
become a very considerable performer. Henry Giffard* 
Hulet was a useful performer and a good singer. C. Dibdin. 

Theophilus Gibber. 

1703-1757- 

Though Mr. Theophilus Gibber had some degree of merit in 
a variety of characters, and especially in brisk coxcombs, and 
more particularly in extravagant parts, such as Pistol, yet he 
generally mixed so much of false spirit and grimace in his 
acting, that he often displeased the judicious spectator. 
T. Davies. 

Theophilus Gibber, whose variegated and complicate history* 
was as scandalous, and would have been as noticeable as that 
of Savage, if he had been born with as much genius, who was 
forward in all manner of theatrical schisms and got into all 
manner of scrapes, who has been considered by Goldsmith and 
others to have fortunately escaped hanging by being drowned, 
who, in short, was a constant imposition in everything he said 
and did, all which is attributed by an author to his having been 
born on the day of the most memorable storm" ever known in 
this kingdom, which happened November 26th, 1703, brought 



1 Henry Giffarcl was the manager of the theatre in Goodman's-fields, 
where Garrick made his first appearance. See page 79. ED. 

2 His scampish character is sufficiently illustrated by his conduct towards 
his wife (see Mrs. Gibber). His habits were extravagant, and much of his 
life was passed in distress. He was drowned in crossing to Ireland. ED. 

3 The storm, called "the great storm," one of the most terrible that 
ever raged in England. The devastation on land was immense, and in the 
harbours and on the coasts the loss in shipping and in lives was even 

G 3 



84 Robert Wetherilt. 

out, for we cannot say he wrote, six dramatic pieces. 1 Charles 
Dibdin. 

Mr. Theophilus Gibber received his education at Winchester 
School. His strong genius for the theatre brought him early 
upon the stage, where he has appeared in full lustre in the 
various branches of comedy ; and though he has performed 
several parts in tragedy with success, in my imagination the 
sock sits easier upon him than the buskin, Chelwootfs "History 
of the Stage." 

Robert Wetherilt 

1708-1745. 

This person was born at Stamford, in Lincolnshire, in the 
year 1708, where his father and mother, belonging to a country 
company, were then playing. He played, as he informed me, 
the part of the DuH of York\& "Richard III.," before 
he could speak plain ; so that it may be said he was born an 
actor. He came with his mother (who was a well-esteemed 
actress at that time) to Drury-lane a boy, where he showed his 
rising genius, first in the part of Squire Richard in the " Pro- 
voked Husband ;" from thence he went to the theatre in Good- 
man's-fields, where he married the sister of Mr. Dennis Delane, 
then of that theatre. In the year 1738, he came over into this 
kingdom, and may be well remembered; his excellence, in 
several parts of comedy, having not yet been outdone. I can- 
not avoid mentioning a passage in the life of this truly good 
comedian. While he and his family belonged to the Theatre 
Royal in Drury-lane, after the company had finished the season 
of playing in London (which generally is at the end of May), he, 
with his father and mother, went, for the summer season, to play 



greater. Haydn. This storm supplied Addison with his celebrated 
simile of the Angel in his poem " The Campaign :" 

" So when an angel by divine command 
With rising tempests shakes a guilty land, 
Such as of late o'er pale Britannia past, 
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast ; 
And pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perlorm, 
Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm." ED. 

1 They were " Henry VI.," " The Lover," " Pattie and Peggy," " The 
Harlot's Progress," "Romeo and Juliet," and the "Auction." Shak- 
speare, Allan Ramsay, and Fielding were the authors "improved" by 
Citber in the above pieces. ED. 



Robert Wet her lit. 85 

at several towns in Lincolnshire (the custom of many of both 
established theatres). When the company were summoned to 
meet in London at the usual time (the latter end of August) to 
begin the winter-season, I received the following short letter : 

"Grantham, August 2nd. 

" SIR, Mr. Wetherilt, and his wife, beg you will excuse them 
to Mr. Wilks ; their son is at the point of death. They beg an 
answer. Be pleased to direct to your humble servant R. 
Stukely, apothecary, in Grantham, Lincolnshire." 

The meaning why I mention this letter is, that the son, the 
very night this letter was written, in all appearance, expired, was 
stripped and washed, the bed taken away, and he laid stretched 
on a mat, with a basin of salt (a common custom in England) 
placed on his stomach, the inconsolable parents removed 
to another house, the coffin brought to the son's chamber, and 
the windows all open. About eight at night a person was sent 
with a light to watch the corpse. When she opened the door, 
the first object she perceived was poor Bob (as he was generally 
called by his familiars) sitting up, with his teeth trembling in 
his head (and well they might) with cold. The woman, in her 
fright, dropped the candle, and screamed out, " The devil ! the 
devil 1" This fright alarmed another woman below, who ran 
upstairs to see what was the matter. In the meantime Bob, 
with much ado, had made a shift to get from the bed ; and, 
taking up the candle, which lay upon the floor unextinguished, 
was creeping to the door to call for assistance, as naked 
as from the womb of his mother ; which the two women 
perceiving, with joint voices repeated again, " A ghost ! a 
ghost ! the devil ! the devil !" The master of the house, hear- 
ing this uproar, ran himself to know the reason ; where poor 
Bob, the supposed devil, and he, soon came to a right under- 
standing. He was put into a warm bed, to the unspeakable joy 
of his desponding parents, and in ten days after in London 
(viva voce) told me the whole story of his death. This 
accident, when real death paid him a visit, worked so strongly 
upon his forlorn parents, that they would not let his corpse be 
loffined till five days after he expired. Vain hope ! He died 
in 1743, in the thirty-fifth year of his age. Both his parents 
died soon after him. I am sorry to end this account with say- 
ing, his company was so desirable, that he had many trials of 



86 Lavinia Pent on. 

skill with his constitution. He was buried, in a very genteel 
manner, in the round churchyard. ChetwoocTs "History of the 
Stage." ' 

Lavinia Fenton (Duchess of Bolton). 

1708-1760. 

The person who acted Polly (in the " Beggars' Opera" 1 ), till 
then obscure, became all at once the favourite of the town ; 
her pictures were engraved and sold in great numbers ; her life 
written, books of letters and verses to her published, and 
pamphlets made even of her sayings and jests. Note to the 
" Ditntiad" 

She was a very accomplished and most agreeable com- 
panion ; had much wit, strong good sense, and a just taste in 
polite literature. Her person was agreeable and well made, 



1 She was the original Polly in the "Beggars' Opera." Gay, the 
author of the piece, had carried his play to Mr. Gibber at Drury-lane, 
who rejected it ; he then took it to Mr. Rich, at the theatre in Lincoln's- 
inn-fields, who had the wisdom to accept it. Its success was not antici- 
pated. It was produced at the smallest cost for which it could be put 
on the stage, and the part of Polly was assigned to Miss Fenton, a 
young woman of handsome person, but of no reputation, who had indeed 
acted, not without success, the character of Cherry in the "Beaux' 
Stratagem," but who was willing to come to Rich for a salary of fifteen 
shillings a week. The Newgate pastoral, as Swift had called it, was the 
greatest success the stage had ever seen. It made the fortune of many con- 
nected with it ; it put a large sum into the pocket of Gay, and left Rich, 
whom it had found poor, opulent. The success of the "Beggars' Opera" 
so elated Gay that he wrote a second part, which he called " Polly ; but 
the Chamberlain refused to license it. The truth was, the immoral tenden- 
cies of the "Beggars' Opera" had been very seriously commented upon. 
Swift, indeed, and others had commended it as a performance that placed 
all kinds of vice in the strongest and most odious light ; but a numerous 
party, led by Dr. Herring, Archbishop of Canterbury, pronounced it in 
the highest degree injurious to public morals. It imparted, they said, to 
rice a sentimental colouring which would increase its attractions, and 
perplex or confound the speculations of such of the ignorant as might be 
disposed to virtue. They also declared that it gave dignity to the character 
of the great social pest of the day, the highwayman, and that it was calcu- 
lated to increase the number of robbers by representing the hero with a 
conscience, and by dismissing him without punishment. In most ages the 
same causes produce the same consequences. In our own day the result 
of the introduction of Jack Sheppard on the stage as a hero must 
illustrate and confirm the objections of the opponents of the " Beggar i' 
Opera." ED. 



;i 



Lavinia Fenton. 87 

though I think she could never be called a beauty. I have 
had the pleasure of being at table with her, when her conver- 
sation was much admired by the first characters of the age, 
particularly by old Lord Bathurst and Lord Granville. Dr. 
Joseph Will ton. 

The famous Folly, Duchess of Bolton, is dead, having after 
a life of merit relapsed into her Pollyhood. Two years ago, ill 
at Tonbridge, she picked up an Irish surgeon. When she was 
dying, this fellow sent for a lawyer to make her will ; but the 
man finding who was to be her heir instead of her children, re- 
fused to draw it. The Court of Chancery did furnish another 
less scrupulous, and her three sons have but a thousand pounds 
apiece, the surgeon nine thousand. Horace Walpole. 

The impression made by Miss Fenton in Polly, both by 
her singing and acting, was most powerful. Her popularity 
had reached its apex, and the manager, Mr. Rich, in order to 
secure her future services, was induced to increase his former 
liberality ; and a second offer of double the amount of her pre- 
vious salary presented to the young actress an income so 
truly magnificent that she was dazzled into a prompt 
acceptance of tJiirty shillings a week ! . . . . The abilities of 
Miss Fenton cannot be disputed ; the universal panegyrics of 
the time, and the anxiety of the managers to monopolize her 
services, assure us that no actress or singer could, at any 
period of the drama, be more popular. Not a print-shop or 
fan-shop but exhibited her handsome figure in her Polly's 
costume, which possessed all the characteristic simplicity of the 
modern Quakeress, without one meretricious ornament ; and 
the stage presented her in this style of dress for sixty-three 
consecutive representations of the same character, when the 
theatre was crowded in every part by her admirers ; indeed, so 
painfully was she importuned and pursued by her numerous 
lovers, that it was deemed expedient that some confidential 
friends should guard her nightly home, to prevent her being 
hurt by the crowd or run away with. Mrs. Charles Mathews. 

Miss Fenton, the original Lucy Lockit of "The Beggars' 
Opera," who was married to the Duke of Bolton, became after 
her elevation so obnoxious to the lower orders about the place 
of her residence, that they were with difficulty prevented from 
dragging her out of her coffin. The cause of this extraordinary 
antipathy is not exactly known. New Monthly Magazine. 



Charlotte Charke. 1 
1710-1760. 

Her maiden name was Gibber. She was put to school at 
eight years old, and had an education more suitable to a boy 
than a girl. As she grew up, she accordingly delighted in 
masculine amusements shooting, hunting, riding, &c. Her 
actions were not only mischievous, but frequently attended 
with danger. This wildness, however, was checked in a 
measure by her marriage, when very young, with Mr. Richard 
Charke, an eminent performer on the violin ; but a disagree- 
ment between the parties afterwards occasioned a separation. 
Hereupon she applied herself to the stage, but as much from 
inclination as necessity. Her first character was Mademoiselle. ', 
in the " Provoked Wife ;" and from this she rose to Alicia, in 
" Jane Shore," and Andromache, in the " Distressed Wife ;" in 
all which she met with a favourable reception. She was then 
engaged on a good salary at the Haymarket ; and after that at 
Drury-lane. She now enjoyed a comfortable situation, and 
was like to have made no inglorious figure in theatric life had 
not her bad temper induced her to quarrel with Fleetwood, the 
then manager, whom she not only left on a sudden without any 
previous notice, but even vented her spleen against him in 
public by a little dramatic farce, called " The Art of Manage- 
ment." She then commenced strolling actress, and returned to 
London in 1755, when she published a "Narrative of her 
Life," in which she says, that when she had thrown herself out 
of employment, she set up as a grocer and oilwoman in Long- 
acre, but was robbed and cheated by sharpers. She then 
opened a puppet-show, which failed. Soon after the death of 
Mr. Charke, she was arrested for a small sum, and procured 
her discharge by a subscription among the " ladies" who kept 
coffee-houses in and about Covent-garden. Disguising her 
sex, she then became a performer among the lowest of actors, 
and afterwards engaged with a noble gentleman as valet-tie- 
chambre. She also made and sold sausages for the support of 
herself and child ; and this failing, became a waiter at the 



1 She was a younger daughter of Colley Gibber. 



William Mynitt. 89 

King's Head Tavern in Marylebone. HursCs "Biography oj 
Female Character" 1803. 

Mrs. Charke, whose memoirs in the annals of profligacy 
make almost as conspicuous a figure as those of Theophilus 
Gibber, her brother, who, a sort of English D'Eon, 1 amused her- 
self in fencing, shooting, riding races, currying horses, digging in 
gardens, and playing upon the fiddle ; who was at different 
times an actress, a grocer, an alehouse-keeper, a valet-de- 
chambre, a sausage seller, and a puppet-showwoman ; one day 
in affluence, the next in indigence ; now confined in a sponging- 
house, presently released by a subscription of prostitutes ; in 
short, one of those disgraces to the community that ought not 
to be admitted into society, wrote three strange pieces, called 
"The Carnival," the "Art of Management," and "Tit for 
Tat." C. Dibdin. 

William Mynitt. 
17101763. 

This gentleman was born of a good family, at Weobly, in 
Herefordshire, in the year 1710, where he received a good 
school education. He was sent to London very young to be 
put into business, but his friends, or rather, relations (who 
often prove our greatest enemies), neglecting his fortune, he 
turned his thoughts to the drama. However, he had not the 
vanity of most of the theatrical young heroes, who jump at 
once into your Othello, Oroonoko, Hamlet, or, Captain Plume; 
but wisely weighing his own talents, stepped into the part of 
Polonius in " Hamlet," where he gained such applause, that he 
resolved to put on the sock, with which he walked an easy 
pace in the right road to perfection. His first trial of 
skill was at the theatre in the Haymarket (commonly called the 
French House), where he gave such strokes of judgment that 



1 Mademoiselle la Chevalier D'Eon du Beaumont, an extraordinary 
woman, born 1728, who was sent as a man by Louis XV. to the Court of 
Russia to treat with the Empress Elizabeth for an alliance, and for her suc- 
cessful negotiations was rewarded by a lieutenancy of dragoons. In 1759 
she joined her regiment as captain, and was twice wounded at the engage- 
ment of Ulthrop ; and at that of Ostervich she charged at the head of a 
detachment of dragoons, and completely routed a strong battalion Prussen 
de Rhes. She was subsequently appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the 
Court of London. ED. 



90 Thomas Davies. 

alarmed his best antagonists. From his beginning encou- 
ragement he was solicited to add a promising member to 
the company of Bath, where there is a regular theatre, 
and an audience as difficult to be pleased as that in 
London, being generally persons of the highest rank that 
frequent those diversions in the capital. He had the good 
fortune to give satisfaction there, insomuch that several per- 
sons of distinction and taste promised to recommend him to 
one of the established theatres in London. But a company 
that season setting out for Ireland, he was resolved to accom- 
pany them, and cultivate his genius in this kingdom. His 
knowledge in music is some addition to his merit, and in his 
walk of acting he may keep pace with the best on both sides 
the water. I never saw Mrs. Mynitt perform any part ; but as 
she has an amiable person and excellent voice, I have taken it 
upon trust that she is an agreeable actress both in tragedy and 
comedy. But the bulk of the letters in the bills are the distin- 
guished characteristics of merit. It puts me in memory of a 
Mandarin I saw at Canton in China, who was lifted on a 
throne of state to public view, while a dozen of his slaves that 
bore him in triumph through the streets were covered with a 
curtain, and no more of their persons seen but the regular 
steps of their feet. ChetwoocTs " History of the Stage" 

Thomas Davies. 
1710-1785. 

With him came mighty Davies ; (on my life, 
That Davies has a very pretty wife I 1 ) 
Statesman all over, in plots famous grown, 
He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone. 

Churchill? 

He played Fainall in " The Way of the World," when Mr. 
Taylor and many friends were present. He seemed" an old 



1 This pretty wife died in 1801, it is said, in a workhouse. 
2 Churchill's sarcasm drove poor Davies from the stage. Johnson verv 
justly blamed his folly in abandoning a profession by which he and his 
wife earned five hundred pounds a year. " What a man is he who is to be 
driven from the stage by a line!" he exclaimed. " Another line would 
have driven him from his shop !" Mediocre as a writer, tenth-rate as an 



Thomas Davies. 91 

formal-looking man, with a dull gravity in his acting and a 
hollow rumbling in his voice." He made a speech, owning his 
inability, but hoping his good-will would be accepted. He 
seemed to decay gradually. Fitzgerald. 

Once an actor now a conceited bookseller. Garrick. 

My predecessor, as an historian of the stage, Thomas Davies, 
had failed in his business as a bookseller, and returning to his 
very humble efforts as an actor for a single night, took a benefit 
on the 2yth (of May, 1778). He chose, "a stroke of un- 
designed severity," the comedy of " The Way of the World," 
and after a silence of fifteen years performed the part of Fainall. 
Davies's countenance was Garrick's with all its fire quenched. 
His expression was placid and genteel, and in my youth I used 
to call in upon him, and enjoy his kind and communicative spirit, 
in the small parlour, behind his shop in Russell-street, Covent- 
garden. In his difficulties he obliged me with sundry books in 
which his own name had been written. I hope even then I felt 
that it increased their value. Boaden. 

Mr. Thomas Davies was a man of good understanding and 
talent, with the advantage of a liberal education ; though some- 
what pompous, he was an entertaining companion ; and his 
literary performances have no inconsiderable share of merit. 
He was a friendly and very hospitable man. Both he and his 
wife (who has been celebrated for her beauty), though upon the 
stage for many years, maintained an uniform decency of cha- 
racter ; and Johnson esteemed them, and lived in as easy an 
intimacy with them as with any family which he used to visit. 
Mr. Davies recollected many of Johnson's sayings, and was one 
of the best of the many imitators of his voice and manner while 
relating them. Bosivelfs "Life of Johnson." 

Sir, Davies has learning enough to give credit to a clergy- 
man. Dr. Johnson. 



actor, of narrow parts and slight wit, Davies nevertheless somehow con- 
trived to hold his own in the brilliant society in whose records we find his 
name constantly recurring. Johnson patronized him, ate his dinners and 
leered at his wife ; and what Johnson did and liked the others who formed 
his set were bound to approve. The haughty Beauclerc, however, had 
some difficulty in disguising his contempt for the little bookseller. Once 
at a dinner-party Davies slapped Moody, the actor, on the back, in appro- 
bation of his argument. When Boswell mentioned this to Beauclerc, he 
declared "that he could conceive nothing more humiliating than to be 
slapped on the back by Tom Davies." ED. 



92 William Havard. 

Davies, who was a better gossip than critic, though he affected 
literature, was an actor himself of the mouthing order, if we are 
to believe Churchill, and his criticisms show him enough inclined 
to lean favourably to that side. Leigh Hunt. 

William Havard. 
17101778. 

Havard undertook the tragedy of " Charles I. " at the desire 
of the manager of the company of Lincoln's-inn-fields, to 
which he then belonged, in 1737. The manager had probably 
read of the salutary effects produced on the genius of Euripides 
by seclusion in his cave, and he was determined to give Havard 
the same advantage in a garret during the composition of his 
task. He invited him to his house, took him up to one of its 
airiest apartments, and there locked him up for so many hours 
every day, well knowing his desultory habits ; nor released him, 
after he had once turned the clavis tragica, till the unfortunate 
bard had repeated through the key-hole a certain number of 
new speeches in the progressive tragedy. Thomas Campbell. 

Here Havard. all serene, in the same strains, 
Loves, hates, and rages, triumphs and complains ; 
His easy, vacant face proclaim'd a heart 
Which could not feel emotions nor impart. Churchill. 

Not unaccomplished in the scenic art, 

He grac'd the stage, and often reach'd the heart ; 

From his own scenes he taught distress to flow, 

And manly virtue wept for civil woe. 

Malevolence and envy he ne'er knew, 

He never felt their darts and never threw ; 

With his best care he form'd into his plan 

The moral duties of the social man. Paul Whitchcad* 



1 " May I can worse disgrace on manhood fall? 

Be born a Whitehead and baptized a Paul. Churchill. 

He was born 1710, and died 1774. " Paul Whitehead," says Lord 
.Dover, ' ' a satirical poet of bad character, was the son of a tailor. In 
politics Whitehead was a follower of Bubb Dodington ; in private life he 
was the friend and companion of the profligate Sir Francis Dashwood, 
Wilkes, Churchill, &c., and, like them, was a member of the ' Hell-fire 
dub.'" ED. 



William Havard. 93 

He was a worthy, unobtrusive, harmless man, one of the 
objects of Garrick's talent for mimicry, and that is all. 
Boadcn* 

Havard the actor (better known from the urbanity of his 
manners by the familiar name of Billy Havard) had the mis- 
fortune to be married to a most notorious shrew and drunkard. 
One day, dining at Garrick's, he was complaining of a violent 
pain in his side. Mrs. Garrick offered to prescribe for him. 
" No, no," said her husband, " that will not do, my dear ; Billy 
has mistaken his disorder ; his great complaint lies in his rib." 
Theatrical Anecdotes. 

Havard, a respectable writer and a reputable character, wrote 
" Scanderbeg," founded upon Lillo's " Christian Hero," which 
had little success. "King Charles I." did credit to the 
author and the stage, but Lord Chesterfield's remark on it, in 
his famous speech against the licensing act, was that it was of 
too recent, too melancholy, and too solemn a nature to be 
heard of anywhere but in the pulpit. " Regulus " had some 
sterling merit, but it had but little success. " The Elopement," 
a mere farce, was acted only at his benefit. C. Dibdin. 

Havard was one of Garrick's " old guard," and was always 
faithful and true, and, when leaving the stage, had the unusual 
grace to write his old master a grateful and kindly letter. He 
was linked with the old days. Garrick had been truly kind, and 
after his last benefit, made him a present of a horse. Fitzgerald. 

No performer of his assiduity deserved encouragement more 
than he did. He acted a variety of characters, both in tragedy 
and comedy, and was constantly before the eyes of a critical 
audience. Such was the soundness of his judgment and so 
respectable his character, that he never met with any marks of 
displeasure from the public ; on the contrary, he was constantly 
favoured with their countenance and approbation. T. Dames. 



1 Of James Boaden, a well-known dramatic critic, a writer says : " His 
plays are numerous, but we believe there is not one of them that keeps the 
stage. Far more important are his dramatic memoirs. In them he has 
left probably the best record that the world can now have of John 
Kcmble, Mrs. Jordan, and Mrs. Siddons." He died, 1839, aged seventy- 
seven. 



Mrs. Gibber. 1 
1710-1766. 

Formed for the tragic scene to grace the stage, 

With rival excellence of love and rage, 

Mistress of each soft art, with matchless skill 

To turn and wind the passions as she will ; 

To melt the heart with sympathetic woe, 

Awake the sigh, and teach the tear to flow ; 

To put on phrenzy's wild distracted glare, 

And freeze the soul with horror and despair ; 

With just desert enrolled in deathless fame, 

Conscious of worth superior, Gibber came. Churchill. 

Mrs. Gibber, I think, got more reputation than she deserved, 
as she had a great sameness ; though her expression was un- 
doubtedly very fine. Dr. Johnson. 

Gibber, with fascinating art, 
Could wake the pulses of the heart. 

Dr. Syntax's Tours. 

When Mr. Whitehead's comedy of the " School for Lovers' 
was read before the performers at Garrick's house, it was sug- 
gested that the age of Celia (the character intended for Mrs. 
Gibber), which was sixteen, would be better altered to two or 
three and twenty. Mrs. Gibber, who was then reading her part 
with spectacles, said she liked the character better as it was, and 
desired it might remain as it stood. She was then more than 
fifty years old ; but the uncommon symmetry and exact pro- 
portion in her form, with her singular vivacity, enabled her to 
represent the character with all the juvenile appearance marked 
by the author. Percy Anecdotes. 

Mrs. Gibber had very pathetic powers ; her features, though 
not beautiful, were delicate, and very expressive ; but she 
uniformly pitched her silver voice, so sweetly plaintive, in too 
high a key to produce that endless variety of intonation with 
which Mrs. Siddons declaims. Miss Seward. 



1 Mrs. Gibber was sister to the celebrated Dr. Arne. Arne was born in 
1710. " He was a musician," says Leigh Hunt, " against his father's will, 
and practised in the garret on a muffled spinet when the family had gone to 



Mrs. Gibber. 95 

Mrs. Cihl.er, in a key high-pitched, but sweet withal, sung, 
or rather recited, Roue's harmonious strain something in the 
manner of the improvisator's. It was so extremely wanting in 
contrast, that though it did not wound the ear, it wearied it; 
wlu-n she had once recited two or three speeches, I could 
anticipate the manner of every succeeding one ; it was like a 
long, old, legendary ballad of innumerable stanzas, every one of 
which is sung to the same tune, eternally chiming in the ear 
without variation or relief. R. Cumberland. 

Her features, figure, and singing, made her appear the best 
Ophelia that ever appeared either before or since. Tafe 
Wilkinson* 

John Taylor told me that she strongly resembled Mrs. 
Siddons in the indescribable power of her eyes. When Garrick 
heard of her death he exclaimed, " Then Tragedy is dead on 
one side !" meaning female actors. T. Campbell. 

It was curious her face should resemble Garrick's so re- 
markably that she might have passed as his sister. 1 Never 
was there such tender, melting notes, such passion, such grief, 
and in the true pathos of Otway she was at home and unap- 
proachable. Yet her favourite u demi-chant," pitched rather 
high, yet still keeping its musical sweetness, seemed to belong 
to the conventionality of the old school ; and it is surprising 



bed. He was sent to Eton, which was probably of use to him in confirming 
his natural refinement, but nothing could hinder his devoting himself to 
the art. It is said the old man had no suspicion of his advancement in it, 
until, going to a concert one evening, he was astonished to see his son 
exalted, bow in hand, as the leader. Seeing the praises bestowed on him, 
he suffered him to become what nature designed him for." Hunt and Boaden 
give him high praise as a musician. Churchill satirized him in some sharp 
verses, beginning, 

" Let Tommy Arne, with usual pomp of style, 
Whose chief, whose only merit's to compile, 
Who meanly pilfering here and there a bit, 
Deals music out as Murphy deals out wit, 
Publish proposals, " &c. 

He died 1778. ED. 

1 "In their person," says Davies, " they were both somewhat below the 
middle size; he was, though short, well made ; she, though in her fonn not 
graceful, and scarcely genteel, was by the elegance of her manner and sym- 
metry of her features, rendered very genteel. From similarity of complexion, 
size, and countenance, they would have been easily supposed to be brother 
and sister." Cumberland bears out this statement. (See note to David 
Garrick.) ED. 



96 Mrs. Cibber. 

that, under Garrick's teaching and companionship, she should 
have retained it. Her tenderness wac natural, for it was said 
that in pathetic parts she wept genuine tears, and that her 
agitation turned her face pale even through the rouge. She 
was not what is called a " fine woman," but she had that look 
of interest and sympathy which is a superior charm. P. Fitz- 
gerald, " Life of Garrick" 

Mrs. Susannah Maria Cibber was daughter to Mr. Arne, an 
upholsterer, who lived in King-street, Covent-garden, and 
was born much about the time the Indian Kings, mentioned by 
the Spectator, 1 were lodged in her father's house. When very 
young her voice was so melodious that her friends entertained 
great hopes of her becoming a very excellent singer ; and I 
believe she acted, when she was about fourteen years of age, 
the part of Tom Thumb in the opera of that name, which was 
set to music by her brother, the celebrated Dr. Arne, and per- 
formed at the little theatre in the Haymarket. She certainly 
made some considerable progress in music, and was occasionally 
employed to sing at concerts. When she was married to 
Theophilus Cibber, his father, Colley Cibber, observed to his 
son, that though his wife's voice was very pleasing, and she had 
a good taste in music, yet as she could never arrive at more 
than the rank of a second-rate singer, her income would be 
extremely limited. The old man added, that he had over- 
heard her repeat a speech from a tragedy, and he judged by 
her manner that her ear was good. Upon this she became a 
pupil to her father-in-law ; and he publicly declared that he 
took infinite pleasure in the instruction of so promising a 
genius. To what I have already said of Mrs. Gibber's inimi< 
table power of acting, I have little more to add. Her great 
excellence consisted in that simplicity which needed no orna- 
ment ; in that sensibility which despised all art. There was in 
her person little or no elegance ; in her countenance a small 
share of beauty ; but nature had given her such symmetry of 
form and fine expression of feature, that she preserved all the 
appearance of youth long after she had reached to middle life. 



1 In No. 50. Addison was the writer of the paper ; and Swift in his 
"Journal" complains of Addison appropriating all his " under-hints." The 
four kings with queer names were Iroquois chiefs. They had been told 
that the English were vassals of the French, and that our Saviour was 
in France and crucified in England. ED. 



Mrs. Gibber. 97 

The harmony of her voice was as powerful as the animation of 
her look. In grief or tenderness her eyes looked as if they 
were in tears ; in rage and despair they seemed to dart flashes 
of tire. In spite of the unimportance of her figure, she main- 
tained a dignity in her action and a grace in her step. 
Thomas Davies, " Life of Garrick" 

She captivated every ear by the sweetness and expression of 
her voice in singing. Dr. Burney. 

She was more unfortunate than Mrs. Barry, the mistress of 
Lord Rochester ; for she was the wife of Theophilus Gibber, who 

sold her, and then brought an action against her seducer 

He laid his damages at 5ooo/., and the jury awarded him two 
hundred shillings. 1 It was the fashion in those days to chant, 
to declaim in a sort of sing-song. The famous Barry " had a 
manner of drawing out her words." Mrs. Barry imitated her 
in the habit " of prolonging and timing her pronunciation ;" 
and Mrs. Gibber excelled them all in that demi-chant to which 
the public ear had become accustomed, and which we daresay 
was very delightful, though in those of her contemporaries it 
seemed to harmonize heaven knows how ! with Garrick's 
acting. Blackwood 's Magazine, 1834. 

Mrs. Gibber was a most exquisite actress. In all characters 
of tenderness and pathos, in which the workings of the feeling 
mind call for the force of excessive sensibility, she was like 
Garrick ; the character she represented love, rage, resentment, 
pity, disdain, and all those gradations of the various passions, 
she greatly felt, and vigorously expressed. Her face, her figure, 
and her manner, were irresistibly impressive, and her voice 
was penetrating to admiration. Actresses may have had more 



1 In 1730 was produced "The Lover," written by "Mr. Theophilus 
Gibber, Comedian. This play he dedicated to his wife in language which 
might have been designed to conceal from the public who then read the 
ast new play as we now read the last new novel his real leelings towards 
Vlrs. Gibber. "Your tender terrors," says he, " wrought so visibly upon 
he more generous part of the audience, that whatever life it (the play) has 
o'come, I shall judge it entirely owing to the pity that arose from your per- 
sonal concern ; but your behaviour in the epilogue reached even the hearts 
of enemies, and made them my involuntary friends for your sake. To whom 
then could I with more justice dedicate this play than to her who has so 
effectually protected it ? and has now convinced me of what vast use to any 
actor is a good character in private life, which I doubt not will be one 
strong motive to your preserving of yours, as it ought to be to the mending 
that of your sincerely Loving Husband." ED. 

H 



98 Mrs. Clive. 

majesty, more lire, but 1 believe that all the tragic characters, 
truly feminine, greatly conceived, and highly written, had a 
superior representative in Mrs. Gibber than in any other 
actress. She was certainly not so happy in comedy ; but it 
would be no bad compliment to the present day if there were 
any actress who could perform it half so well. C. Dibdin. 

Mrs. Clive. 
1711-1785. 

Miss Rastor (Mrs. Clive) had a facetious turn of humour and 
infinite spirits, with a voice and manner in singing songs of 
pleasantry peculiar to herself. Those talents Mr. Theo. 
Gibber and I (we all at that time living together in one house) 
thought a sufficient passport to the theatre. We recommended 
her to the laureate (Colley Gibber), whose infallible judg- 
ment soon found out her excellencies, and the moment he 
heard her sing, put her down in the list of performers at 
twenty shillings a week. But never any person of her age 

flew to perfection with such rapidity Her first appearance 

was in the play of." Mithridates, King of Pontus," in Ismenes, 
the page to Ziphares, in boy's clothes, where a song, proper to 
the circumstances of the scene, was introduced, which she 
performed with extraordinary applause. Chctwootfs "History 
of the Stage." 

Mrs. Clive was the best player I ever saw. Dr. Johnson. 

What Clive did best she did better than Garrick, but could 
not do half so many things well. She was a better romp than 
any I ever saw in nature. Ibid. 

It is your misfortune to bring the greatest genius for acting 
on the stage at a time when the factions and divisions among 
the players have conspired with the folly, injustice, and 
barbarity of the town to finish the ruin of the stage, and 
sacrifice our own native entertainments to a wanton affected 
fondness for foreign music ; and when our nobility seem eagerly 
to rival each other in distinguishing themselves in favour of 
Italian theatres and in neglect of our own. However, the few 
who have yet so much English taste and good nature left as 
sometimes to visit that stage where you exert your great 
abilities, never fail to receive you with the approbation 
you deserve ; nay, you extort, by the force of your merit, the 






Mrs. Clive. 99 

applause of those who are languishing for the return of Cuz- 
zoni. 1 H. Fielding. 

First giggling, plotting chambermaids arrive, 

Hoydens and romps led on by General Clive. 

In spite of outward blemishes she shone, 

For humour fam'd, and humour all her own. 

Easy, as if at home, the stage she trod, 

Nor sought the critic's praise, nor fear'd his rod. 

Original in spirit and in ease, 

She pleas'd by hiding all attempts to please. 

No comic actress ever yet could raise 

On humour's base more merit or more praise. Churchill. 

Mrs. Clive was a mixture of combustibles : she was pas- 
sionate, cross, vulgar, yet sensible, a very sensible woman, -and 
as a comic actress of genuine worth indeed, indeed she was a 
diamond of the first water. When her scene of the Fine Lady 
came on, she was received with the usual expression of glad- 
ness on her approach, as so charming an actress truly deserved ; 
and her song from the Italian Opera, where she was free with a 
good ridiculous take-off of Signora Mingotti, was universally 
encored, and she came off the stage much sweetened in temper 
and manners from her first going on. " Ay," said she, in 
triumph, " that artful devil (Garrick) could not hurt me with 
the town, though he had struck my name out of the bill." 
She laughed and joked about her late ill-humour as though she 
could have kissed all around her, though that happiness was 
not granted, but willingly excused. Tate Wilkinson. 



1 " The operas," says Mr. T. Wright, "had flourished equally with the 
masquerades, and were looked upon with jealousy by those who advocated the 
dignity of the legitimate English stage. Singers and dancers from Italy, such 
as Cuzzoni, and Faustina, and Farinelli, obtained large sums of money and 
returned to build themselves palaces at home, while first-rate actors at Drury 
Lane or Lincoln's Inn Fields experienced a difficulty in obtaining respect- 
able audiences." And yet low as seemed the lortunes of the Stage at that 
period, Fielding had written in the Covent Garden Journal, when the opera 
was in its fullest swing of success: " The stage at present promises a much 

better provision than any of the professions The income of an actor 

of any rank is from six to twelve hundred a year ; whereas that of two- 
thirds of the gentlemen of the army is considerably under one hundred ; the 
income of nine-tenths of the clergy is less than fifty pounds a year ; and the 
profits of the law, to ninety-nine in the hundred, amount not to a single 
shilling." 

H 2 



ioo Mi's. Clive. 

Clive, like Shakspeare's toad, "ugly and venomous," but 
with a jewel of liveliness and spirit in her head, a bustle and 
animation, the established titular-chambermaid and hoyden, 
which in our time might have privileged her to lose all 
self-restraint and self-respect, and allow her to play any 
trick or buffoonery. But with her it was all nature, and 
the stage to her was a room at her own lodgings. Fitz- 
gerald. 

Mrs. Clive when very young had a strong propensity to 
acting. Her first theatrical engagement to Booth, Wilks, and 
Gibber, in 1727, was principally owing to the goodness of her 
voice, and to some proficiency which she had made in singing ; 
nor till her merit as an actress showed itself in Nell, the 
cobbler's wife, 1 was she considered in any other light than as 
one- qualified to entertain the audience with a song between 
the acts of a play, or to act some innocent country girl, such as 
Phillida in " Damon and Phillida." An engraving of her in 
that character is still to be seen in the print-shops. The comic 
abilities of this actress have not been excelled, nor indeed 
scarcely equalled, by any performer, male or female, these fifty 
years ; she was so formed by nature to represent a variety of 
lively, laughing, droll, humorous, affected, and absurd cha- 
racters, that what Colley Gibber said of Nokes may with equal 
truth be applied to her ; for Clive had such a stock of comic 
force about her, that she, like Nokes, had little more to do 
than to perfect herself in the words of a part and to leave 
the rest to nature ; and if he, by the mere power of his 
action, kept alive several comedies, which after his death 
became obsolete, it may be justly said of her, that she created 
several parts in plays of which the poet scarce furnished 
an outline, and that many dramatic pieces are now lost to 
the stage for want of her animating spirit to preserve them. 
T. Dames. 

Clive, though she tried composition, had never mastered the 
elements of language, and she spelt most audaciously. 
Boadtn? 

> In "The Devil to Pay." 

8 In a letter to the elder Colman she writes : " There is nothing to be 
said on these Melancolly occasions To a person of understanding fools 
Can not jte<?/ people of sense must and will and when they have Sank their 
spirits till they are ill will find that nothing but submission can give any 
Consolation to Ineveitable missfortunes." ED. 



Mrs. Clive. 101 

Here liv'd the laughter-loving dame 

A matchless actress, Clive her name ; 

The Comic Muse with her retir'd, 

And shed a tear when she expir'd. H. Walpole* 

The jovial, ugly, witty, sensible actress, who by her bustle 
and humour, is recorded to have saved the fifth act of the new 
comedy endangered by want of sufficient rehearsal. C. jR. 
Leslie. 

The evening for the card-party at length arrived, and its 
principal attraction was Mrs. Clive, the celebrated actress, who 
having retired from the stage on 'a handsome competency, 
rented a villa on the bank of the Thames, of Horace Walpole. 
Owing to her amazing celebrity as a comic actress, and as during 
her long theatrical career calumny itself had never aimed the 
slightest arrow at her fame, honest Kitty Clive (for so she was 
familiarly called) was much noticed in the neighbourhood. 
Yet from her eccentric disposition, strange, eccentric temper, 
and frank blunt manner, Mrs. Clive did not always go off with 
quite so much eclat in private as in public life, particularly if she 
happened to be crossed by that touchstone of temper, gaming. 
Quadrille was proposed, and all immediately took their stations. 
I soon observed Mrs. Clive's countenance alternately redden and 
turn pale. At last her Manille went, and with it the remnants 
of her temper. Her face was of an universal crimson, and tears 
of rage seemed ready to start into her eyes. At that very 
moment, as Satan would have it, her opponent, a dowager, 
whose hoary head and eyebrows were as white as those of an 
Albiness, triumphantly and briskly demanded payment for the 
two black aces. " Two black aces !" answered the enraged 
loser, in a voice rendered almost unintelligible by passion ; 
" here, cake the money, though instead, I wish I could give 
you two black eyes, you old white cat T Frederick Reynolds. 

She was the favourite Nell of the stage in the " Devil to 
Pay," and similar characters : and according to Garrick there 



1 To these lines, Peter Pindar, having Mrs. Jordan in mind, wrote the 
following reply : 

" Truth and thy trumpet seem not to agree ; 
Know Comedy is hearty all alive 
The sprightly lass no more expir'd with Clive, 
Than dame Humility will die with thee." ED. 



1O2 Mrs. Pilchard. 

was something of the devil to pay in all her stage life. She 
might have been Macklin's sister for humour, judgment, and a 
sturdiness of purpose amounting to violence, not unmixed with 
generosity. The latter part of her life she spent in retirement 
at Strawberry Hill, where she was a neighbour and friend to 
Horace Walpole, whose effeminacy she helped to keep on the 
alert. It always seems to us as if she had been the man of 
the two and he the woman. Leigh Hunt. 

She was the most dramatic, the veriest Thalia off the stage I 
ever knew only among friends, I should tell you, for in 
company she was the complete gentlewoman, and deservedly 
admitted on easy terms to the society of some of the first 
ladies in the land. There was another, her friend Mistress 
Hannah Pritchard she too was on the same footing with 
women of rank. Sir, the retiring of two such actresses in the 
same year or thereabouts was a sad blow upon Garrick, and a 
great loss to the lovers of the genuine drama at the same time ; 
for certainly, as regards some of their leading characters, they 
left a void which none could fill. Wine and Walnuts. 

Mrs. Pritchard. 
1711-1768. 

Oft have I, Pritchard, seen thy wondrous skill, 
Confess'd thee great, but thought thee greater still. 
That worth, which shone in scatter'd rays before, 
Collected now, breaks forth with double power. 
The " Jealous Wife I" 1 on that thy trophies raise, 
Inferior only to the author's praise. Churchill. 

Something of her Bartholomew Fair 2 origin may be traced in 



1 Written by the elder Colman. ED. 

2 The following account of Bartholomew Fair is abridged from the 
description by Mark Lemon : " Bartholomew Fair was granted to Rayere, 
the King's Jester, by Henry I. It was the principal cloth fair in England 
at the time of Elizabeth. When the City obtained a share of the tolls, 
the fair was proclaimed by the Lord Mayor at the entrance to Cloth Fair. 
His lordship then called upon the keeper of Newgate, and had a cool 
tankard of wine, nutmeg and sugar, and the custom only ceased on the 
second mayoralty of Sir Matthew Wood. Lord Chancellor Rich bought 
St. Bartholomew, and there had his town mansion, and all the tolls of the 
fair and the market which had pertained aforetime to the old Priory. Tha 



Mrs. Priichard. 103 

Mrs. Pritchard's professional characteristics. She never rose to 
the finest grades even of comedy, but was most famous in scolds 
and viragoes. In tragedy, though she had a large imposing 
figure, she wanted grace in her manner, and was too loud and 
profuse in her expression of grief. Garrick told Tate Wilkinson 
that she was apt to blubber her sorrows. 71 Campbell, " Lift 
of Siddons? 

Her playing was quite mechanical. It is wonderful how 
little mind she had. Sir, she had never read the tragedy of 
" Macbeth" through. She no more thought of the play out of 
which her part was taken, than a shoemaker thinks of the skin 
out of which the piece of leather of which he is making a pair 
of shoes is cut. Dr. Johnson? 

Is it possible, thought I, that Mrs. Pritchard, the greatest of 
all the Lady Macbeths, should never have read the play ? And 
I concluded that the Doctor (Johnson) must have been misin- 



Bartlemy property passed to Elizabeth, heiress to Sir Walter Cope, of Ken- 
sington. She is supposed to have originated Lady Holland's mob a 
riotous assemblage of the showmen and traders at Bartlemy, some five 
thousand strong, which proclaimed in its own way that the fair was 
opened. At Bartlemy Fair, principally at the George Inn yard, Smith- 
field, Henry Fielding, one of the greatest of the great English prose- 
writers, kept a theatrical booth for nine years. Drury Lane and the other 
west-end theatres closed during the fair, and some of their best actors 
played at Bartlemy. The fair died of inanition about 1849, after giving 
the City authorities a great deal of trouble." Of the character of the per- 
formances at the booths the following "bill of the programme" may give 
some idea: "At Crawly's booth, over against the Crown Tavern in 
Smithfield, during the time of Bartholomew Fair, will be presented a little 
opera, called 'The Old Creation of the World,' yet newly revived, with 
the addition of Noah's Flood ; also several fountains playing water during 
the time of the play. The last scene does represent Noah and his family 
coming out of the ark with all the beasts, two by two, and all the fowls of 
the air seen in a prospect sitting upon trees ; likewise over the ark is seen 
the rising sun, in a most glorious manner ; moreover a multitude of angels 
will be seen, in a double rank, which presents a double prospect, one for 
the sun, the other for a palace, wheire will be seen six angels ringing of bells. 
Likewise machines descend from above, double and treble, with Dives 
rising out of hell, and Lazarus seen in Abraham's bosom, besides several 
figures dancing jigs, sarabands, and country dances, to the admiration of all 
spectators; with the merry conceits of 'Squire Punch' and 'Sir John 
Spendall.' " This was performed in the reign of Queen Anne. ED. 

1 In a conversation Johnson had with Mrs. Siddons, he said, " Pritchard 
in common life was a vulgar idiot ; she would talk of her gownd ; but 
when she appeared upon the stage seemed to be inspired by gentility and 
understanding." ED. 



IO4 Mrs. Pritchard. 

formed ; but I was afterwards assured by a gentleman, a friend 
of Mrs. Pritchard's, that he had supped with her one night after 
she had acted Lady Macbeth, and that she declared that she had 
never perused the whole tragedy : I cannot believe it. Mrs. 
Siddons. 

The famous ghost scene (" Macbeth") was a great triumph 
for Mrs. Pritchard. Her bye-play, her efforts to distract the 
attention of the company from her husband's extravagances, 
her assumed gaiety and courtesy, were not mere " points," 
worked out by an ingenious and clever player, but true flashes 
of genius, and intended by the poet. Great actresses have since 
won applause by a heightening and repetition of these " points," 
but it was Pritchard who led the way. Fitzgerald. 

She excelled in the Queen-mother of " Hamlet," Zara in the 
" Mourning Bride," Merope, Creusa, and more especially 
in Queen Katherine, the wife of Henry VIII. She gave to all 
these parts importance by her action, as well as speaking ; her 
few defects in tragedy proceeded from a too loud and profuse 
expression of grief and want of grace in her manner ; her 
natural ease of deportment and grandeur of person generally 
hid the defect of this last requisite from the common spectator. 
Her great force in comedy lay in a middle path, between parts 
of a superior life and those of humour in a lower class. 
Gibber's Lady Townly, Lady Betty Modish, and Maria in the 
"Nonjuror," she conceived accurately and acted pleasantly, 
and with applause, but neither her person nor manner was suf- 
ficiently elegant and graceful for the high-bred woman of fashion. 
T. Davies. 

Mrs. Pritchard was before my time. She was, it seems, one 
of those prodigies whom the stage inspires with elegance, taste, 
and correctness, which she never had, or affected to despise, in 
private life a dangerous trick, if it be one, or a miraculous 
change without an adequate cause. Faulty pronunciation has 
adhered in my own time to many performers of both sexes and 
of great excellence and the knowledge has exceeded the prac- 
tice. But vulgarity in utterance is itself a debasing thing, and 
is but indifferently palliated by either the toilet or the dancing- 
master. Boaden. 

We should entertain a very high opinion of Mrs. Pritchard, 
even had she left us nothing but the face in her portraits. She 
seems to have been a really great genius, equally capable of the 
highest and lowest parts, The fault objected to her was, that 



Mrs. Pritchard. 105 

her figure was not genteel ; and we can imagine this well enough 
in an actress who could pass from Lady Macbeth to Doll 
Common. She seems to have thrown herself into the arms of 
sincerity and passion, not perhaps the most refined, but as 
tragic and comic as need be. Leigh Hunt. 

Her comic vein had every charm to please, 
'Twas Nature's dictates breath'd with Nature's ease. 
Even when her powers sustained the tragic load, 
Full, clear, and just th' harmonious accents flow'd 
And the big passions of her feeling heart 
Burst freely forth, and shamed the tragic art. 
Oft on the scene, with colours not her own, 
She painted vice, and taught us what to shun. 
One virtuous track her real life pursued, 
That nobler part was uniformly good. 
Each duty there to such perfection wrought, 
That, if the precepts failed, th' example taught. 

VV. W/iitc/ieaa. 1 

Mrs. Pritchard was an actress of a different class (from Mrs. 
Gibber) ; had more nature, and of course more change of tone, 
and variety both of action and expression ; in my opinion, the 
comparison was decidedly in her favour. ft. Cumberland. 

She was everywhere great, everywhere impressive, and every- 
where feminine. Charles Dibdin. 

Mrs. Pritchard was an actress of more general abilities than 
Mrs. Gibber. Mrs. Gibber's acting was delightful, Mrs. 
Pritchard's commanding. One insinuated herself into the 
heart, the other took possession of it. Nothing could be so 
fortunate for the stage as this junction of separate talents. It 
made acting like a picture, with grand breadths of light and 
shade. We have seen the excellence of Mrs. Gibber ; that of 
Mrs. Pritchard was unceasing variety. Lady Macbeth, the 
Queen in " Hamlet," Clarinda, Estifania, Doll Common in 



1 William Whitehead was born 1714. He wrote with small success for 
the stage, but his poetry gained him (1757) the laureateship, Gibber being 
dead. Among his dramatic works are " The School for Lovers," " Creusa, 
and "The Roman Father." Churchill abused him, of which the effect was, 
that the managers refused to bring forward his dramas. Eight years after- 
wards, however, he made a present of a farce called "The Trip to Scot- 
land," to Garrick, which was produced without his name. He died 1785, 
aged seventy. ED. 



io6 John Beard. 

short, every species of strong nature received from her a polish 
and a perfection than which nothing could be more truly capti- 
vating. Gibber's judicious remark, that the life of beauty is too 
short to form a complete actress, proved so true in relation to 
Mrs. Pritchard that she was seen to fresh admiration, till in 
advanced age she retired with a fortune, to the great satisfaction 
of her numerous admirers. Ibid. 

John Beard. 
1716-1791. 

A man universally beloved for his many amiable qualities. 
T. Davies. 

Mr. Beard, celebrated for his vocal talents, being one of the 
most popular singers that had appeared on the British stage. 
He was son-in-law of Mr. Rich, manager of Covent Garden 
Theatre, and for some years joint proprietor and acting 
manager with that gentleman. Wine and Walnuts. 

Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey, 

Let slavish minstrels pour th' enervate lay : 

To Britons far more noble pleasures spring 

In native notes, while Beard and Vincent 1 sing. Churchill. 

I consider Beard, taken altogether, as the best English 
singer. He was one of those you might fairly try by Shakspeare's 
speech to the actors. He did not mouth it, but his words 
came trippingly from his tongue ; he did not out-Herod 
Herod, but he begot a temperance that gave his exertions 
smoothness ; he never outstepped the modesty of nature, nor 
made the judicious grieve; in short, he never did more than 
was set down for him ; he never set on a quantity of barren spec- 
tators to applaud while some necessary question of the song 
stood still : he let his own discretion be his tutor, and held the 

mirror up to nature He was very valuable as an actor. 

In the " Jovial Crew," " Love in a Village," " Comus," and 



1 " Mrs. Vincent, like Lowe, depended almost upon her voice, which was 
rery charming. In short, it was that true English voice which has an 
evenness, a fulness, a solidity, that one might analyze so as to show that 
nothing Italian can have. She was deservedly a great favourite, and sung 
songs of ease and sweetness with great delicacy." Charles Dibdin. 






David Garrick. 107 

" Artaxerxcs," he gave proof of this in a degree scarcely inferior 
to anybody. Charles Dibdin. 

The marriage of Beard the singer with a lady of the Waldegrave 
family, though he was one of the most excellent of men, was looked 
upon as such a degradation, that they have contrived to omit the 
circumstance in the peerage-books to this day. Leigh Hunt. 

His name first appears in the Dramatis Pers. of Handel's 
operas performed at Covent Garden in 1736. Beard had his 
musical education in the chapel royal under Bernard Gates. 
He first became a great favourite of the town by his style 
of singing Galliard's hunting song, " With Early Horn." His 
voice was a rich tenor. Soon after Beard appeared on the 
stage he married the Earl of Waldegrave's only daughter, with 
whom he lived very happily during fourteen years, when she 
died. His second wife was the daughter of Rich. Beard was 
a highly esteemed character in private life. Dictionary of 
Musicians ) 1824. 

David Garrick. 1 
1716-1779. 

I see him now in a dark blue coat, the button-holes bound 
with gold, a small cocked hat laced with gold, his waistcoat 
very open, and his countenance never at rest, and, indeed, 
seldom his person ; for in the relaxation of the country he gave 



1 Mrs. Garrick died in 1822, and I have found the following notice of her 
Jeath in a contemporary journal : 

" On the 1 6th of October, died at her house on the Adelphi Terrace, the 
relict of the British Roscius, in her ninety-ninth year. Her maiden name 
was Violetta, and she was a native of Vienna, where she was a dancer highly 
admired. Mrs. Garrick was remarkably beautiful in her face and person, 
and till her death she retained that erect deportment which she derived 
from her original profession. She was married to Garrick in 1749, and 
survived her husband forty-three years and upwards, he having died in 1779. 
Mr. and Mrs. Garrick were a very happy couple, and enjoyed the highest 
society in the kingdom, till the close of his life ; and it is remarkable, that 
during the whole period of their marriage, whatever invitations they received, 
or excursions they took, they never once slept asunder. By the death of 
Mrs. Garrick, the library of the British Museum will be further enriched by 
the addition of her husband's valuable collection of old English plays, besides 
ivhich, the celebrated statue of Shakspeare, by Roubilliac (of which the one 
over the fireplace in the rotunda of Drury Lane Theatre is a cast) will 
grace the hall of that national establishment. The chair, too, made from 
Shakspeare's mulberry tree, will also, it is supposed, be there deposited. 



io8 David Garricft. 

way to all his natural volatility, and with my father was 
perfectly at ease ; sometimes sitting on a table, and then if he 
saw my brother at a distance on the lawn, shooting off like an 
arrow out of a bow in a spirited chase of them round the 
garden. I remember, when my father having me in his hand, 
met him on the common riding his pretty pony, his moving my 
compassion by lamenting the misery of being summoned to 
town in hot weather (I think August) to play before the King 
of Denmark. I thought him sincere, and his case pitiable, till 
my father assured me that he was in reality very well pleased, 
and that what he groaned at as labour was an honour paid to his 
talents. The natural expression of his countenance was far 
from placidity. I confess I was afraid of him ; more so than I 
was of Johnson, whom I knew not to be, nor could suppose he 
ever would be thought to be, an extraordinary man. Garrick 
had a frown, and spoke impetuously. Miss Hawkins?' 

Johnson : " Sir, it is wonderful how little Garrick assumes 
No, sir, Garrick fortunam reverenter habet. Consider, sir, 
celebrated men such as you have mentioned have had their 
applause at a distance ; but Garrick had it dashed in his face, 
sounded in his ears, and went home every night with the 
plaudits of a thousand in his cranium. Then, sir, Garrick did 
not ///;/, but made his way to the tables, the leve'es, and almost 
the bedchambers of the great. Then, sir, Garrick had under 



It is richly carved, and would, if put up to auction, fetch an enormous 
price ; as would, doubtless, many other articles of virtu, as having once 
belonged to the ' best living commentator' on the works of the Bard of 
Avon. Among these must not be forgotten four originals by Hogarth, of 
the Election. Mrs. Garrick was interred in Westminster Abbey, close by 
the remains of her husband, on the 25th of October." 

1 Garrick's first appearance was at Goodman's Fields Theatre, in October, 
1741. This theatre, according to Mr. Jesse, " was founded in 1729 by one 
Thomas Odell, in spite of declamations from the pulpit and the opposition 
of many grave and respectable citizens, who dreaded that their daughters 
and servants might be contaminated by its close vicinity. Neither would 
they seem to have been very wrong in their apprehensions, inasmuch as Sir 
John Hawkins informs us that the new theatre was soon surrounded by a 
'halo of brothels.' The clamour of the citizens for a time closed the 
theatre in Goodman's Fields, but on the 2Oth of October, 1732, it was re- 
opened by one Henry Giffard, an actor." Garrick's first appearance was as 
Richard III. ' ' Such was his success, and with such rapidity did his 
fame spread, that notwithstanding the distance of Goodman's Fields from 
the fashionable part of London, the long space between Temple Bar and 
Goodman's Fields is said to have been nightly blocked up by the carriages 
of the 'nobility and gentry.' "Jesse's "London" 



David Gar rick. 109 

him a numerous body of people: who, from fears of his power, 
or hopes of his favour, or admiration of his talents, were con- 
stantly submissive to him. And here is a man who has advanced 
the dignity of his profession. Garrick has made a player a 
higher character." 1 Scott: "And he is a very sprightly writer 
too." Johnson : "Yes, sir ; and all this supported by great wealth 
of his own acquisition. If all this had happened to me, I should 
have had a couple of fellows with long poles walking before me, 
to knock down everybody that stood in the way. Consider, if 
all this had happened to Gibber or to Quin, they'd have jumped 
over the moon. Yet Garrick speaks to us" (smiling). Bos- 
well : " And Garrick is a very good man, a charitable man." 
Johnson: "Sir, a liberal man. He has given away more 
money than any man in England. There may be a little vanity 
mixed ; but he has shown that money is not his first object." 
Boswell : " Yet Foote used to say of him, that he walked out 
with the intention to do a generous action, but turning the 
corner of a street, he met the ghost of a halfpenny, which 
frightened him." 2 Johnson : " Why, sir, that is very true, too ; 
for I never knew a man of whom it could be said with less 
certainty to-day what he will do to-morrow, than Garrick ; it 
depends so much on his humour at the time." Scott : " I am 
glad to hear of his liberality. He has been represented as 
very saving." Johnson : " With his domestic saving we have 



1 Johnson's assumed or veritable contempt for the dramatic profession 
was continually bursting out. When mention was made of Garrick becoming 
a member of the Literary Club, "If Garrick does apply," said Johnson, 
" I'll blackball him. Surely one ought to sit in a society like ours, 

' Unelbow'd by a gamester, pimp, or player.' " 

"Sir," he once said when Garrick begged him to respect his feelings, 
" Punch has no feelings." ED. 

2 " There is a story of poor dear Garrick whose attention to his money 
stuff never forsook him relating that when his last day was drawing to an 
end, he begged a gentleman present to pay his club-forfeits ; ' And don't 
let them cheat you,' he said, 'for there cannot be above nine, and they will 
make out ten. ' " Piozzi. 

There was no end to Foote's jokes about Garrick's parsimony. "Gar 
rick," said Foote, "lately invited Hurd to dine with him in the Adelphi, 
and after dinner, the evening being very warm, they walked up and dowr> 
in front of the house. As they passed and repassed the dining-room win- 
flows, Garrick was in a perfect agony, for he saw that there was a thief in 
one of the candles which was burning on one of the tables ; and yet Hurd 
was a person of such consequence that he could not run away from him to 
prevent the waste of his tallow." S. Jtogers. 



1 10 David Gar rick. 

nothing to do. I remember drinking tea with him long ago, 
when Peg Woffington made it, and he grumbled at her for 
making it too strong. He had then begun to feel money in his 
purse, and did not know when he should have enough of it." 
Life of Johnson. 

Jack Bannister told me that one night he was behind the 
scenes of the theatre when Garrick was playing Lear; and that 
the tone in which Garrick uttered the words, " O fool, I shall 
go mad !" absolutely thrilled him. Rogers' s " Table Talk" 

If manly sense, if nature link'd with art ; 

If thorough knowledge of the human heart ; 

If powers of acting vast and unconfin'd ; 

If fewest faults with greatest beauties join'd ; 

If strong expression, and great powers which lie 

Within the magic circle of the eye ; 

If feelings which few hearts like his can know, 

And which no face so well as his can show ; 

Deserve the preference : Garrick, take the chair, 

Nor quit it, till thou place an equal there. Churchill 

That young man never had his equal as an actor, and he will 
never have a rival. Alexander Pope^ 

To the most eloquent expression of the eye, to the hand- 
writing of the passions on his features, to a sensibility which 
tears to pieces the hearts of his auditors, to powers so unparal- 



1 This was Pope's verdict on seeing Garrick". What Garrick felt on 
seeing Pope he has himself told us : " When I was told that Pope was in 
the house, I instantly felt a palpitation at my heart, a tumultuous, not a 
disagreeable emotion in my mind. I was then in the prime of youth, and 
in the zenith of my theatrical ambition. It gave me a particular pleasure 
that Richard was my character when Pope was to see and hear me. As I 
opened my part, I saw our little poetical hero dressed in black, seated in a 
side box near the stage, and viewing me with a serious and earnest atten- 
tion. His look shot and thrilled like lightning through my frame, and I 
had some hesitation in proceeding from anxiety and from joy. As Richard 
gradually blazed forth the house was in a roar of applause, and the con- 
spiring hand of Pope shadowed me with laurels." Sir Joshua Reynolds 
when a youth once saw Pope at an auction-room. He was, he told Malone, 
' ' About four feet six inches high, very humpbacked and deformed : he 
wore a black coat, and, according to the fashion of that time, had on a little 
sword. He had a large and very fine eye, and a handsome nose : his; 
mouth had those peculiar marks which are always found in the mouths OT 
crooked persons, and the muscles which run across the cheek were so strongly 
marked that they seemed like small cords." ED. 



David Garrick. J 1 1 

leled, he adds a judgment of the most exquisite" accuracy, the 
fruit of long experience and close observation, by which he pre- 
serves every gradation and transition of the passions, keeping 
all under the control of a just dependence and natural 
consistency. So naturally, indeed, do the ideas of the poet 
seem to mix with his own, that he seemed himself to be 
engaged in a succession of affecting situations, not giving 
utterance to a speech, but to the instantaneous expression of 
his feelings, delivered in the most affecting tones of voice, and 
with gestures that belong only to nature. It was a fiction as 
delightful as fancy, and as touching as truth. A few nights 
before I saw him in Abel Dnigger; and had I not seen him 
in both, I should have thought it as possible for Milton to have 
written " Hudibras," and Butler " Paradise Lost," as for one 
man to have played Hamlet and Drugger with such excel- 
lence. Hannah More, 1776.* 

All the run is now after Garrick, a wine-merchant, who is 
turned player, at Goodman's Fields. He plays all parts, and is 
a very good mimic. His acting I have seen, and may say to 
you, who will not say it again here, I see nothing wonderful in 
it ; but it is heresy to say so. The Duke of Argyll says he is 
superior to Betterton. Horace Walpole, 1742. 

Did I tell you about Mr. Garrick, that the town are horn-mad 
after ? There are a dozen dukes of a night at Goodman's Fields, 
sometimes ; and yet I am stiff in the opposition. Gray. 

He never could stand still he was a great fidget. 
George III. 

You should see him. He is the completes! little doll of a 
figure the prettiest little creature Colley Gibber? 

The Whitfield of the stage. Qui/i. 3 



1 Writing of Garrick's death Hannah More says : "I can never cease 
to remember with affection and gratitude so warm, steady, and disinterested 
a friend ; and I can most truly bear this testimony to his memory, that I 
never witnessed in any family more decorum, propriety, and regularity than 
in his ; where I never saw a card, or even met (except in one instance) a 
person of his own profession at his table ; of which Mrs. Garrick, by her 
elegance of taste, her correctness of manners, and very original turn of 
humour, was the brightest ornament." ED. 

2 Spoken, of course, contemptuously. Old Gibber had been made sourly 
jealous of Garrick by Pope's praise. Besides, Garrick had totally eclipsed 
Gibber's son Theophilus a man who had no other merit than the possession 
of a great actress as a wife. ED. 

8 Quin's sarcasm will be understood by recollecting what Johnson said 



1 1 2 David Garrick. 

Whenever Mr. Garrick chose to throw off dignity and acting, 
and was not surrounded by business to perplex him, he had it 
in his power to render himself a most pleasing, improving, and 
delightful companion. Tate Wilkinson. 

" Mr. Murphy, sir, you knew Mr. Garrick ? " " Yes, sir, I did, 
and no man better." " Well, sir, what did you think of his 
acting ? " After a pause : " Well, sir, off the stage he was a 
mean sneaking little fellow. But on the stage " throwing up 
his hands and eyes " oh, my great God ! " Rogers 's " TabU 
Talk." 

It is not for the qualities of his heart that this little parasite 
is invited to the tables of dukes and lords, who hire extra- 
ordinary cooks for his entertainment ; his avarice they see not, 
his ingratitude they feel not, his hypocrisy accommodates itself 
to their humours, and is of consequence pleasing ; but he is 
chiefly courted for his buffoonery, and will be admitted into the 
choicest parties for his talent of mimicking Punch and his wife 
Joan. Smollett? 

Nobody but you and Pope ever knew how to preserve the 
dignity of your respective employments. Warburton to 
Garrick. 

Here lies David Garrick : describe me who can 
An abridgment of all that was pleasant in man. 
As an actor, confess'd without rival to shine ; 
As a wit, if not first, in the very first line. 
Yet with talents like these and an excellent 'leart, 
This man had his failings a dupe to riis art , 
Like an ill-judging beauty his colours he spread, 
And bespattered with rouge his own natural red. 
On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting, 
Twas only that when he was off he was acting. 

Goldsmith. 



of Whitfield : "His popularity, sir, is chiefly owing to the peculiarity of 
his manner. He would be followed by crowds were he to wear a nightcap 
in the pulpit, or were he to preach from a tree." ED. 

1 Long afterwards Smollett wrote, in his continuation of "Hume'a 
History":" The exhibitions of the stage were improved to the most exqui 
site entertainment by the talents and management of Garrick, who greatly 
surpassed all his predecessors of this, and perhaps every other nation, in his 
genius for acting, in the sweetness and variety of his tones, the irresistible 
magic of his eye, the fire and vivacity of his action, the elegance of attitude, 
aud the whole pathos of expression." ED. 



I 



David Garrick. 1 1 3 

The grace of action, the adapted mien- 
Faithful as nature to the varied scene ; 
Th' expressive glance whose subtle comment draws 
Kntranc'd attention and a mute applause; 
(ie.sture that marks, with force and feeling fraught, 
A sense in silence and a will in thought ; 
1 larmonious speech, whose pure and liquid tone 
Gives verse a music scarce confess'd its own. Sheridan. 

In the height of the public admiration for you, when you 
were never mentioned but as Garrick the charming man, the 
fine fellow, the delightful creature, both by men and ladies ; 
when they were admiring everything you did, and everything 
you scribbled, at this very time, I, the Pivy, was a living witness 
that they did not know, nor could they be sensible of half your 
perfections. I have seen you with your magic hammer in your 
hand, endeavouring to beat your ideas into the heads of crea- 
tures who had none of their own. I have seen you, with lamb- 
like patience, endeavouring to make them comprehend you, 
and I have seen you when that could not be done I have 
seen your lamb turned into a lion ; by this your great labour 
and pains the public was entertained ; they thought they all 
acted very fine ; they did not see you pull the wires. Mrs. 
Clive? 

His eye was dark, but not characteristical of any passion but 
the fierce and the lively. To friendship with man, or love 
and friendship with woman, he never was disposed ; for love of 
himself always forbid it. Envy was his torment ; ever dreading 
merit in the lowest of his brethren, and pining at the applause 

and fortune that their labours procured them He had a 

hackneyed kind of metaphorical, theatrical, tinselled phraseology, 
made out of rags and ends, quotations and imitations of Eng- 
lish poets ; and, indeed, from the Greek and Latin authors as 
often as his memory served him with the scraps and mottoes it 
had quaintly picked up ; for he knew no book of antiquity, nor 
indeed of modern note, Prior, La Fontaine, Swift's poetry, and a 
few more of that kind excepted these he constantly imitated, 
plundered, disguised, and frittered in occasional prologues, 



1 Smith, another actor under Garrick, long after that great man's death, 
wrote : " I never can speak of him but with idolatry, and have ever looked 
upon it as one of the greatest blessings of my life to have lived in the days 
of Garrick." ED. 



1 1 4 David Garrick. 

epilogues, and complimentary poems upon parrots, lap- 
dogs, monkeys, birds, growing wits, patrons, and ladies. 1 
Mack/ in. 

Few men had such natural advantages to lead them to the stage. 
The popular notion that he was " little " was one of the vulgar 

topics of depreciation He had great and expressive play of 

features. 2 He was neatly and elegantly made ; handsome, with 
a French grace, yet combined with perfect manliness. His 
frame had a surprising flexibility and even elasticity, which put 
all his limbs under the most perfect control ; there was an 
elegant freedom in every motion, regulated by the nicest pn> 

priety He was a gentleman by birth and training. His 

features were wonderfully marked ; the eyebrows well-arched, 
ascending and descending with rapid play ; the mouth expressive 
and bold ; and the wonderful eyes, bright, intelligent, and darting 
fi re. Fitzgerald. 

He was not so shining nor exuberant in his manner of dis- 
coursing as his acquaintance Foote ; but he was more agreeable, 
not only from his not overpowering the company with the 
superiority and brilliancy of his wit, but by his moderation in 
the use of those talents of which he was master. Foote was 
not satisfied without subduing his guests ; Mr. Garrick confined 



1 Sour old Macklin is wrong. Nearly all Garrick's jeux-cC esprit are 
good. Take his lines on Hill : 

" In physic and farces his equal there scarce is; 
His farces are physic, his physic a farce is." 

Or the well-known couplet on Goldsmith : 

" Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll, 
Who wrote like an angel and talked like poor Poll." 

Or his more elaborate summary of the poet's character called "Jupiter and 
Mercury." It may be remembered too that Johnson highly praised 
Garrick for the sprightliness and variety of his prologues and epilogues, 
whilst he pronounced him for conversation the best company in the world. 
Foote's dislike of Garrick was equal to Macklin's. He mimicked, he 
abused him whenever he could get a listener ; he borrowed his money and 
repaid him in lampoons. He loved to annoy him to his face. " I am going 
to bring out a new Roscius," he told him. Garrick was uneasy. " What ! 
iealous of Punch !" cried Foote, which was the Roscius he meant. A lady 
r-sked Foote if his figures at the Haymarket were to be the size of life. 
" No, madam," he answered, " about the size of Garrick." 

2 Mrs. Clive was one night seen standing at the wing, weeping and scold- 
ing alternately at Garrick's acting- Angry at last at finding herself so 
affected, she turned on her heel, crying, "P him, he could act a grid* 

" 



David Garrick. 1 1 5 

his power of convening to the art of making every man pleased 
with himself. T. Dairies. 

The man who of all men that ever lived presents the 
most perfect type of the actor. Quick in sympathy, vivid in 
observation, with a body and mind so plastic that they could 
take every mould, and give back the very form and pressure of 
every fashion, passion, action ; delighted to give delight, and 
spurred to every higher effort by the reflection of the effect pro- 
duced on others no matter whether his audience were the 
crowd of an applauding theatre, a table full of nbolemen and 
wits, a nursery group of children, or a solitary black boy in an 
area ; of inordinate vanity at once the most courteous, genial, 
sore, and sensitive of men; full of kindliness yet ever quarrelling ; 
scheming for applause even in the society of his most intimate 
friends ; a clever writer, a wit, and the friend of wits, yet 
capable of mutilating " Hamlet " and degrading the " Mid- 
summer Night's Dream" into a ballet-opera. Leslies "Life of 
Reynolds."* 

1 A graphic account of Garrick has been bequeathed to us by Cumber- 
land. It is made thrice valuable by its other excellent portraits. The 
play he witnessed was Rowe's "Fair Penitent." " Quin," he says, "pre- 
sented himself upon the rising of the curtain in a green velvet coat 
embroidered down the seams, an enormous full-bottom periwig, rolled 
stockings, and high-heeled, square-toed shoes ; with very little variation of 
cadence, and in deep, full tones, accompanied by a sawing kind of motion 
which had more' of the senate than the stage in it, he rolled out his heroics 
with an air of dignified indifference that seemed to disdain the plaudits 
bestowed on him. Mrs. Gibber, in a key high-pitched, but sweet 
withal, sung, or rather recitatived Rowe's harmonious strain, somewhat in 
the manner of the improvisator's. It was so extremely wanting in con- 
trast that though it did not wound the ear it wearied it ; when she had once 
recited two or three speeches, I could anticipate the manner of every suc- 
ceeding one it was like a long legendary ballad of innumerable stanzas, 
every one of which is sung to the same tune, eternally chiming to the ear 
without variation or relief. Mrs. Pritchard was an actress of a different 
cast, had more nature, and of course more change of tone, and variety 
both of action and expression. In my opinion, the comparison was 
decidedly in her favour. But when, after long and eager expectation, I 
first beheld little Garrick, then young and light, and alive in every muscle 
<yid in every feature, come bounding on the stage, and pointing at the 
Adttol Altamont (Ryan) and heavy-paced Horatio (Quin), Heavens, what a 
transition ! It seemed as if a whole century had been stepped over in the 
changing of a single scene old things were done away, and a new order 
at once brought forward, light and luminous, and clearly destined to dispel 
the barbarisms and bigotry of a tasteless age, too long attached to the pre- 
judices of custom, and superstitiously devoted to the illusions of imposing 
declamation." 

I ? 



1 1 6 David Garrick. 

No remark was ever in ore true than that Garrick " acted both 
on and off the stage." He was a glutton in praise ; and after 
gorging upon the applause of thundering audiences and judicious 
critics, his unsatiated grovelling appetite hungered for the 
admiration of a shoe-black or an infant ; he would steal a side- 
long look at a duke's table, to ascertain whether he had made 
a hit upon the butler and the footmen ; such was the littleness 
of the great Roscius !....! have mentioned the uncommon 
brilliancy of his eye, but he had the art of completely quenching 
its fire ; as in his acting Sir Anthony Branville, a dramatic per- 
sonage, who talks passionately with the greatest sang-froid, and 
whose language, opposed to his temperature, breathes flame like 
Hecla, in Iceland. In this part, I have been told, he made 
the twin stars, which nature had stuck in his head, look as 
dull as two coddled gooseberries. .But his Deaf-maris eye (of 
which I once witnessed a specimen at Hampton) evinced his 
minuteness of observation and gift of execution. There is an 
expression in the eye of deaf persons (I mean of such as have 
not lost all perception of sound) which, difficult as it may be to 
exhibit in mimickry, it is still more difficult to define in writing : 
it consists of a mixture of dulness and vivacity in the organs of 
vision, indicating an anxiety to hear all, with a pretending to 
hear more than is actually observed, and a disappointment in 
having lost much ; an embarrassed look between intelligence 
and something approaching to stupidity all this, he conveyed 
admirably ; and if I could convey it in words one tithe as well, 
I should have made myself more intelligible. Colmaris 
"Random Records" 

In Lear Garrick's very stick acted, Bannister said. The 
scene with Cordelia and the physician, as Garrick played it, 
was the most pathetic he ever saw on the stage. Garrick in- 
structed Barry in Romeo; and afterwards, when Barry played 
it in rivalry with him, he was obliged to alter his own manner, 
^notwithstanding which, he beat Barry. A lady (I forget her 
name), who had performed Juliet with them both, said she 
thought she must have jumped out of the balcony to Barry ; 
and that she thought Garrick would have jumped into the 
balcony to her. 1 Leslie's " Autobiography" 



1 Walpole is seldom more cynical than when he handles the name of 
Garrick. "I think the pomp of Garrick's funeral perfectly ridiculous," he 
writes; "it is confounding the immense space between pleasing tal 



ents 



David Gar rick. \ 1 7 

Garrick has the reputation of improving the stage costume ; 
but it was Macklin that did it. The late Mr. West, who was 
the first (in his picture of the " Death of Wolfe") to omit the 
absurdity of putting a piece of armour instead of a waistcoat 
upon a general officer, told us that he himself once asked 
Garrick why he did not reform the stage in that particular. 
Garrick said, the spectators would not allow it " they would 
throw a bottle at his head." Leigh Hunt. 

Of all persons near our own time, Garrick's name was re- 
ceived with the greatest enthusiasm, who was proposed by J. 

F . He presently superseded both Hogarth and Handel, 

who had been talked of, but then it was on condition that he 
should act in tragedy and comedy, in the play and the farce, 
Lear and Wildair and Abel Drugger. What a sight for sore 
eyes that would be ! Who would not part with a year's income 
at least, almost with a year of his natural life, to be present at 
it ? Besides, as he could not act alone, and recitations are un- 
satisfactory things, what a troop he must bring with him the 
silver-tongued Barry, and Quin, and Shuter, and Weston, and 
Mrs. Clive and Mrs. Pritchard, of whom I have heard rny 
father speak as so great a favourite when he was young ! This 
would indeed be a revival of the dead, the restoring of art ; and 
so much the more desirable, as such is the lurking scepticism 
mingled with our overstrained admiration of past excellence, 
that though we have the speeches of Burke, the portraits of 
Reynolds, the writings of Goldsmith, and the conversation of 
Johnson, to show what people could do at that period, and to 
confirm the universal testimony to the merits of Garrick ; yet, 
as it was before our time, we have our misgivings, as if he was 
probably after all little better than a Bartlemy-fair actor, 
dressed out to play Macbeth in a scarlet coat and laced cocked- 
hat. For one, I should like to have seen and heard with my 
own eyes and ears. Certainly, by all accounts, if any one 
was ever moved by the true histrionic astus, it was Garrick. 



and national service. What distinctions remain for a patriot hero when 
the most solemn have been showered on a player ?" He allows that he 
was a real genius in his way, but he cannot believe "that acting, however 
perfectly, what others have written is one of the most astonishing talents. " 
He praises him that he may the better censure. He pronounces his Kttel) 
and Ranger capital and perfect; but "in declamation I confess he never 
charmed me, nor could he be a gentleman. His Lord Tffwnly and Lord 
Hastings were mean." ED. 



1 1 8 David Garrick. 

When he followed the Ghost in " Hamlet," he did not drop the 
sword as most actors do behind the scenes, but kept the point 
raised the whole way round, so fully was he possessed with the 
idea, or so anxious not to lose sight of his part for a moment 

Once at a splendid dinner party at Lord 's, they suddenly 

missed Garrick, and could not imagine what was become of 
him, till they were drawn to the window by the convulsive 
screams and peals of laughter of a young negro-boy, who was 
rolling on the ground in an ecstasy of delight to see Garrick 
mimicking a turkey-cock in the courtyard, with his coat-tail 
stuck out behind, and in a seeming flutter of feathered rage and 
pride. 1 Of our party only two persons present had seen the 
British Roscius ; and they seemed as willing as the rest to re- 
new their acquaintance with their old favourite. New Monthly 
Magazine, 1826. 

During my two years' residence in London I often saw Garrick. 
The delight his acting gave me was one of the silken cords that 
drew me to the theatre. I liked him best in Lear. His saying 
in the bitterness of his acting, " I will do such things what 
they are I know not ;" and his sudden recollection of his own 
want of power, were so pitiable as to touch the heart of every 
spectator. The simplicity of his saying, " Be these tears wet ? 
yes, faith !" putting his finger to the cheek of Cordelia, and then 
looking at his finger, was exquisite. Indeed, he did not get his 
fame for nothing. I saw him do Abel Drugger the same night ; 
and his appalled look of terror where he drops the glass drew 
as much applause from, the audience as his Lear had done. 
OKeefe. 

I saw Garrick act Othello that same night, in which I think 
he was very unmeaningly dressed, and succeeded in no degree 
of comparison with Quin, except in the scene where lago gives 



1 "Garrick," says Charles Dibdin, "would indulge some few friends 
but it was very rare with what he used to call his rounds. This he did 
by standing behind a chair, and conveying into his face every kind of pas- 
sion, blending one into the other, and as it were shadowing them with a 
prodigious number of gradations. At one moment you laughed, at another 
you cried ; now he terrified you, and presently you conceived yourself 
something horrible, he seemed so terrified at you. Afterwards he drew 
his features into the appearance of such dignified wisdom that Minerva 
might have been proud of the portrait ; and then degrading, yet admi- 
rable transition he became a driveller. In short, his face was what he 
obliged you to fancy it age, youth, plenty, poverty, everything it 
i ssumed. " 



Henry Woodward. 1 1 9 

him the first suspicion of Desdemona. He endeavoured 
throughout to play and speak everything directly different from 
Quin, and failed, I think, in most of his alterations. George 
Selwyris " Correspondence 

Garrick at any time, on or off the stage, alone or in company, 
about whatever study, occupation, or pursuit in short, em- 
ployed in any manner he might, was an actor, a complete actor, 
and nothing but an actor ; exactly as Pope, during the whole 
course of his life, was a poet, and nothing but a poet. Charles 
Dibdin. 

Henry Woodward. 
1717-1777. 

He is a very thriving comedian and a very peaceable mimic, 
for he never strikes first ; but if he receives the first blow, he 
generally returns it with double the strength of his adversary. 
He is an excellent Harlequin, and has what most of the motley 
coat gentry want, an excellent head to his heels ; and if his 
black mask should be thrown aside for a whole age (though 
levity will hardly be so long obscured), yet as a just and pleas- 
ing actor in comedy he can never want encouragement any- 
where, if theatres are in use. Chctwood. 

A speaking Harlequin made up of whim, 
He twists, he twines, he tortures every limb, 



1 In times not long since passed it was possible to make a reputation, 
even superior to that which might attend literary genius, as a conversa- 
tionist. Of brilliant talkers there is a long list, which, headed perhaps by 
the name of Samuel Johnson, includes Jenyns, Luttrell, Mackintosh, 
Beauclerc, Lord Melcombc, Colman, Curran, Foote, and even Lord 
Sandwich, the notorious Jemmy Twitcher. Of these George Selwyn seems 
the most distinguished. Horace Walpole is never weary of retailing his 
smart sayings, and in London society " Selwyn's last" was handed round 
as we might now hand round an excellent number of Punch. Selwyn was 
born in 1719. His wit in early life choosing the channels of obscenity 
and blasphemy, he was expelled in 1745 from Oxford. He became a mem- 
ber of the famous Medmenham Abbey^Club, which was founded for the pur- 
pose of enabling a select number of the gentlemen of the period to riot 
in the most licentious, profane, and ribald conversation. In Parliament he 
was distinguished for a happy faculty of dozing. In his tastes he was 
addicted to gambling and to executions. He haunted the clubs to the last, 
exciting roars of laughter by his jests, which he contrived to heighten by a 
drowsy, demure way of uttering them. Wilberforce describes him in his 
latter days as looking like the wax figure of a corpse. He died at a house 
in Cleveland Row, January 25th, 1791. ED. 



I2O Henry Woodward. 

Plays to the eye with a mere monkey's art, 

And leaves to sense the conquest of the heart 

We laugh indeed, but on reflection's birth, 

We wonder at owselves and curse our mirth. Churchill. 1 

Since his time the part of Bobadil has never been justly 
represented ; it may be said to have died with him. At a period 
when correct costume was not cared for, he was ever careful 
regarding the proprieties of dress ; and, more fortunate than 
Ryan, he sustained the assaults of Time without letting the con- 
sequent ravages be seen. Charles Mathews is in many respects 
exactly what Woodward is said to have been ; but Woodward 
could play a far wider range of characters. His scamps were 
perfect for their cool impudence ; his modern fops for their 
brazen impertinence ; his fops of earlier days for their elegant 
rascality ; his everyday simpletons for their vulgar stolidity ; his 
mock-brave hero'es for their stupendous but ever-suspected 
courage ; and his Shakspearian light characters for their truly 
Shakspearian spirit. He was gracefully shaped, and bore a 
serious dignity of countenance, but he was no sooner before the 
footlights than a ripple of funny emotion seemed to roll over 



1 The "Rosciad," the most trenchant satire of modern times, vigorous 
as " Macflecknoe," more galling than the "Dunciad," appeared without its 
author's name in 1761. In a few days it achieved a popularity that may be 
paralleled by the "Pickwick Papers." Everybody read it; everybody 
quoted it. When the name of the author became known, the actors whom 
he had attacked assumed their most tragical scowls and hoarsely talked of 
vengeance. But Churchill, a big, sturdy Irishman, laughed at their threats. 
He walked about Covent Garden with a cudgel under his arm, and repaired 
to the coffee-houses frequented by the actors as if eager for a scuffle. Yates, 
in the poet's presence, did indeed snatch a carving-knife and flourish it in 
the air, but laid it down again on meeting Churchill's contemptuous gaze. 
Foote wrote a lampoon against the "Clumsy Curate," but suppressed it. 
Arthur Murphy, more valiant, published an "Ode to the Naiads of Fleet 
Ditch," of which the sole consequence was to prove himself even a 
greater blockhead than Churchill 1: ad represented him. The "Rosciad" 
was too indiscriminating in its abuse to effect a reformation ; but it achieved 
for the author a reputation surpassing that of the most eminent of his con- 
temporaries. Apologists for Churchill have not been wanting ; but little 
can be adduced in his favour. He was ruffianly as a man; he was a drunkard, 
a spendthrift, and a sensualist of a vulgar type. As a clergyman his vices 
only stand out in sharper relief. Certain passages in his poems have been 
quoted as illustrating a sound and honest nature ; but they no more prove 
his possession of a single virtue than the pious declamations of Henley or a 
Fleet parson proved him to have been inspired by a single sentiment of 
Christianity. He died, 1764, aged thirty-three years. ED. 



Henry Woodward. 121 

his face ; and this, with the tones of a capital stage voice, never 
jailed to arouse a laughter which was inextinguishable. Dr. 
Doran. 

In the green-room Garrick trained the actors himself, teach- 
ing them his own readings and inflections. These Woodward 
appeared to adopt with much humility. But one morning 
during the manager's absence, Woodward, in unusual spirits, 
undertook to give his brethren a specimen of the way he meant 
to deal with his part on the night in question, which was wholly 
different from the one in which he had been so carefully in- 
structed. During this performance Garrick arrived unperceived, 
and listened quietly. The way in which he treated this little 
bit of duplicity is excellent testimony to his fairness and good 
humour. " Bravo, Harry !" he cried. " Upon my soul, bravo ! 
Why, now, this is no, no ! I can't say this is quite my idea of 
the thing. Yours is, after all, to be sure rather ha !" The 
actor was a little confused, and said with true duplicity that he 
meant to act the part according to the manager's views. " No, 
no ; by no means, Harry," said the other, warmly : " you 
have actually clinched the matter. But why, dear Harry, 
would you not communicate before ?" P. Fitzgerald, " Life of 
Garrick: 1 

He was an- actor who, for various abilities to delight an 
audience in comic characters, had scarcely an equal. His 
person was so regularly formed, and his look so serious and 
composed, that an indifferent observer would have supposed 
that his talents were adapted to characters of the serious cast : 
to the real fine gentleman, to the man of graceful deportment 
and elegant demeanour, rather than to the affecter of gaiety, the 
brisk fop, and pert coxcomb. But the moment he spoke on the 
stage a certain ludicrous air laid hold of his features, and every 
muscle of his face ranged itself on the side of levity. The very 
tones of his voice inspired comic ideas ; and though he often 
wished to act tragedy, he never could speak a line with propriety 
that was serious. T. Davies, "Life of Garrick." 

Woodward, the best Petruchio, Copper Captain, Captain Flash, 
and Bobadil of his day, had brisk and genuine if rather brassy 
humour. In spite of his sense, and with the best intentions, 
he never could utter a line of tragedy. Leslie's "Life of 
Reynolds." 

In the comedy of " Twelfth Night," Woodward always sus- 
tained Sir Andrew Aguecheek with infinite drollery, assisted by 



122 Henry Woodward. 

that expression of rueful dismay, which gave so peculiar a zest 
to his Marplot. In the latter character I have always under- 
stood that he wore " this rue for a difference" between himself 
and Garrick, who, it has been said, on high critical authority, 
was not quite at home in Marplot. Great efforts were made in 
the circ.le of his humble friends to force this performance to a 
rivalry with Woodward, but the " son of whim" remained un- 
shaken. His unappeasable curiosity, his slow comprehension, 
and annihilation under the sense of his dilemmas, were so 
diverting, that even the great master soon dropped the contest, 
and left him the decided Marplot of the stage. In the year 
1728, when the "Beggars' Opera" was acted by Lilliputians, 
Harry Woodward performed the Beggar, Mrs. Vincent, then 
Miss Binks, being Macheath on that occasion ; so early did the 
humour appear for indecent travesty in this piece, brought out 
only the year before at Lincoln's Inn Fields. It was soon after 
his study of these beggarly elements of his profession that he 
became in due form Rich's apprentice, who taught him all that 
he knew of pantomime, and Woodward had cultivated the arts 
of writing, and was rather fond of controversy. I believe him 
to have been commonly right though the press is a public 
medium of display which I should always exhort the actor most 
strenuously to avoid. Woodward had been careful beyond the 
measure of the comedian, and died in remarkably good circum- 
stances. Boaden, "Life of Siddons" 

Woodward, besides being so fine a comedian, was excellent 
in Harlequin. In one of the pantomimes he had a scene in 
which he acted as if eating different kinds of fruit. Soft music 
was played : he came on, sat at a table (on which there was 
placed nothing], and made pretence of taking up the stalk of a 
bunch of currants. Then, holding high his hand, with the 
points of finger and thumb compressed, he seemed to shake the 
stalk, and to strip off the currants with his mouth. In like 
manner he would appear to hold up a cherry by the stalk, and 
after eating it, to spurt the stone from his lips. Eating a goose- 
berry, paring an apple, sucking an orange or peach all were 
simulated in the same marvellous fashion. In short, the 
audience perfectly knew what fruit he seemed to be eating by 
the highly ingenious deception of his acting. Woodward's 
chief excellence lay in his attitudes, which he adapted to the 
music, according to the vicissitudes demanded by the various 
passions represented. Hence he was called the "attitude 



Margaret Woffington. 123 

Harlequin" There was always another Harlequin for jumping 
through walls and windows, and such matters of routine. One 
night, by some blunder, the two Harlequins met each other 
full in the centre of the stage, which set the audience in a 
clamour of laughter. O'A'ee/e. 

Woodward, though indifferently gifted by nature, except as to 
his person, which was so complete that he could not throw 
himself into an inelegant attitude, possessed such sound prin- 
ciples of acting that he is for ever to be regretted. There arc 
characters in real life which appear out of nature. These are 
fair game for authors ; and, when they are well drawn, did we 
not meet with performers of the admirable description of 
Woodward, we should lose the pleasure of seeing such cha- 
racters well acted. These characters are not general, but par- 
ticular nature, and therefore it requires strong art and judgment 
to delineate them. The great point is to steer between extrava- 
gance and vapidity, a knowledge of effect completely understood 
by Woodward. C. Dibdin. 

Margaret Woffington. 
1718-1760. 

Since Margaret Woffington's day, now one hundred and four 
rears, there has never been a comic actress capable of sus- 
aining such a character as Lady Macbeth before a London 
audience. This, the most difficult of all Shakspearian parts, 
was considered by the critics a first-rate performance ; and in 
regard to her genius for comedy, Garrick, who was so popular 
n Harry Wildair, gave up the part when Woffington appeared 
n it. This extraordinary Irish actress was also celebrated for 
ler acting of Queen Katherine, Henry III., and Constance in 
' King John." W. Donaldson, " Recollections: 1 

In every sense of comic humour known, 
In sprightly sallies wit was all thy own. 
Whether you seem'd the cifs most humble wife, 
Or shone in Towntys higher sphere of life, 
Alike thy spirit knew each turn of wit, 
And gave new force to all the poet writ. 
Nor was thy worth to public scenes confin'd ; 
Thou knewest the noblest feelings of the mind ; 



124 Margaret Woffington. 

Thy ears were ever open to distress, 

Thy ready hand was ever stretch'd to bless. 

Hoofc 

Mrs. Woffington, though pleasing to the eye, used to bark 
out the " Fair Penitent" with most dissonant notes. T. 
Campbell's " Life o/Siddons." 

From her portraits we can see that this notorious lady was 
not a bold, rosy-cheeked hoyden, as we might expect, but had 
an almost demure, placid, and pensive cast of face. She wore 
her hair without powder, and turned back behind the ear, 
nearly always with a cap carelessly thrown back, or a little 
flat garden hat set negligently on, d la Nelly O'Brien. Cer- 
tainly, a deeply interesting face, but with a little hint of foolish- 
ness and air of lightness in all its calm, pale placidity. P. Fitz- 
gerald's " Life of Garrick." 

Forgive her one female error, and it might fairly be said of 
her, " that she was adorned with every virtue ; honour, truth, 
benevolence, and charity were her distinguishing qualities." 
Her conversation was in a style always pleasing, and often 
instructive. She abounded in wit. A. Murphy. 

She appeared for the first time in London at the theatre in 
Covent Garden in 1738. Her choice of character excited the 
curiosity of the public. Sir Harry Wildair acted by a woman 
was a novelty. This gay, dissipated, good-humoured rake, she 
represented with so much ease, elegance, and propriety o: 
deportment, that no male actor has since equalled her in that 
part. She acquitted herself so much to the general satisfac- 
tion that it became fashionable to see Mrs. Woffington per- 
sonate Sir Harry Wildair. The managers soon found it to 
their interest to announce her frequently for that favourite 
character ; it proved a constant charm to fill their houses. . . 
Her chief merit in acting, I think, consisted in the representa 
tion of females in high rank and of dignified elegance, whose 
graces in deportment, as well as foibles, she understood anc 

displayed in a very lively and pleasing manner But this 

actress did not confine herself to parts of superior elegance 
she loved to wanton with ignorance when combined with 
absurdity, and to play with petulance and folly, with peevish 



1 John Hoole is chiefly known as the translator of Tasso's " Jerusalem 
Delivered." He was born in 1727, and was for forty-two years a clerk in 
the India House. He died 1803. ED. 






Margaret Woffington. 125 

ness and vulgarity. Those who remember her Lady Pliant in 
Congreve's " Double Dealer," will recollect with pleasure her 
whimsical discovery of passion, and her awkwardly assumed 
prudery. Jn Mrs. Day, in " The Committee," she made no 
scruple to disguise her beautiful countenance by drawing on it 
the lines of deformity and the wrinkles of old age ; and to put 
on the tawdry habiliments and vulgar manners of an old hypo- 
critical city vixen. Thomas Davics. 

When Woffington took up the part of Harry Wildair, she 
did what she was not aware of namely, that the audience per- 
mitted the actress to purify the character, and enjoyed the 
language from a woman which might have disgusted from a 
man speaking before women as I have heard spoiled children 
commended for what would, a few years after, shut them out of 
the room if they ventured so far. No, Mrs. Woffington, in 
spite of Quin's joke, upon your supposing that u /ia//the house 
took you for a man" I am convinced that no creature there 
supposed it for a moment ; it was the travesty seen throughout 
that really constituted the charm of your performance, and ren- 
dered it not only gay but innocent. Boadcrfs " Life oj 
Jordan" 

In 1755 the celebrated Mrs. \Voffington acted in the first 
play I ever saw Alicia, in " Jane Shore." I remember some 
years after seeing her mother, whom she comfortably sup- 
ported a respectable-looking old lady, in her short black 
velvet cloak, with deep rich fringe, a diamond ring, and small 
agate snuff-box. She had nothing to mind but going the 
rounds of the Catholic chapels, and chatting with her neigh- 
bours. Mrs. Woffington, the actress, built and endowed a 
number of almshouses at Teddington, Middlesex ; and there 
they are to this day. She is buried in the church, her name on 
trie tombstone. -John O'Keefe. 

I have heard Quick (the actor) speak in raptures of Peg 
Waffington (sic), though she must have been old when he saw 
her. Records of a Veteran. 

Mrs. Woffington was an actress of all work, but of greater 
talents than the phrase generally implies. Davies says she 
was the handsomest woman that ever appeared on the stage, 
and that Garrick was at one time in doubt whether he should 
not marry her. She was famous for performing in male attire. 
.... She was the only woman admitted into one of the Beef- 
teak clubs, and is said to have been president of it. Leigh Hunt. 



126 Margaret W offing ton. 

She possessed captivating charms as a jovial, witty bottle 
companion, but few remaining as a mere female. Victor. 

Mrs. Woffington had held Rosalind as her own for ten years, 
when, on the 3rd of May, 1757, she put on the dress for the last 
time. She was then at Covent Garden. Some prophetic 
feeling of ill came over her as she struggled against a fainting 
fit, while assuming the bridal dress in the last act. She had 
never disappointed an audience in her life ; her indomitable 
courage carried her on to the stage, and the audience might 
have taken her to be as radiant in health and spirit as she 
looked. She began the pretty saucy prologue with her old 
saucy prettiness of manner ; but when she had said, " If I 
were among you I would kiss as many of you as had beards 
that pleased me," she paused, tried to articulate, but was 
unable had consciousness enough to know she was stricken, 
and to manifest her terror at the catastrophe by a wild shriek, 
as she tottered towards the stage door. On her way she fell, 
paralyzed, into the arms of sympathizing comrades, who bore 
her from the stage, to which she never returned. Cornhill 
Magazine, 1867. 

There is much in vogue a Mrs. Womngton, a bad actress ; 
but she has life. Walpole, 1741. 

Mrs. Woffington was an actress of a most extraordinary kind, 
and in some parts must have been unrivalled. She had a bad 
voice, but this seems to have been the only impediment to her 
becoming superlatively excellent ; for though it is universally 
allowed to have prevented her from interesting the passions in 
so eminent a degree as either Mrs. Pritchard or Mrs. Gibber, 
yet her superior beauty and grace, the industry with which she 
cultivated her profession by observing the instructions of Gibber, 
getting introduced to Mademoiselle Dumesnil, the attention she 
paid to Garrick, and every other eligible opportunity to 
improve, which she seized with solicitude and avidity, esta- 
blished for her a solid and firm reputation. She is said in 
Cleopatra, Jane Shore, and Calista, and all other parts which 
require a form of commanding and majestic beauty, to have 
interested her auditors to a degree of astonishment. She also 
greaftly excelled in comic characters, but I cannot think it an 
addition to her fame, or to female delicacy, that the most 
prominent of those characters was Sir Harry Wildair. C 
fiibdin. 

This agreeable actress, in tfic part of Sir ffarry, coming int 



Spranger Barry. 127 

the green-room, said pleasantly, " In my conscience ! I believe 
half the men in the house take me for one of their own sex." 
Another actress replied, " It may be so ; but, in my conscience ! 
the other half can convince them to the contrary." Chetwood. 

Spranger Barry. 

1719-1777- 

What man like Barry with such pains can err, 

In elocution, action, character ? 

What man could give, if Barry were not here, 

Such well-applauded tenderness to Lear ? 

Who else could speak so very, very fine, 

That sense 'may kindly end with every line? Churchill. 

Fox said that Barry's Romeo was superior to Garrick's. 1 
S. Rogers'* " Table Talk." 

The splendid paintings and engravings extant of bygone 
actors give the present generation an idea of how such gifted 
sons of Thespis looked ; but how the finest of them all, the 
beau-ideal of an Othello and Romeo Barry escaped the notice 
of the artist, is inconceivable ; for we have not a likeness of 
this elegant and accomplished actor in existence. Donaldson's 
"Recollections." 

This fascinating actor was making fresh progress every day 
(1745). Playgoers and writers seem at a loss for words to de- 
scribe the charm ; but setting all the portraits side by side- 
Churchill's, Davies's, and many more the features resolve 
themselves in a noble and graceful figure, a face of calm manly 
beauty, an expression of soft interest and tenderness, and a 
touching and musical voice. These are gifts that would carry 
any actor through, and most likely they carried him over the 
mannerisms hinted at by the bitter Churchill, and the affectation 
with which, the satirist unfairly says, " he conned his passions 



1 " It was nicely and accurately decided that Barry was superior in the 
garden scene of the second act, and Garrick in the scene with the Friar ; 
Barry, again, superior in the other garden scenes, and Garrick in the por- 
trait of the Apothecary. Barry was also preferred in the first part of the 
tomb, and Garrick in the dying part. Some said that Barry was an 
Arcadian, Garrick a fashionable lover. But the best test is, that after an 
interval Garrick, with that excellent good sense which distinguished every 
act of his, quietly dropped the part out of his repertoire" Fitzgerald. 



128 Spr anger Barry. 

as he conned his part." The ladies were his warm patrons, 
whom " he charmed by the soft melody of his love-complaints 
and the noble ardour of his courtship." Lord Chesterfield also 
admired his figure, but forecasted his sudden withdrawal from 
the stage, carried off by some smitten rich widow. 1 P. Fitz- 
gerald, " Life of Garrick" 

Of all the tragic actors who have trod the English stage for 
these last fifty years, Mr. Barry was unquestionably the most 
pleasing. Since Booth and Wilks, no actor had shown the 
public a just idea of the hero or the lover ; Barry gave dignity 
to the one and passion to the other. In his person he was tall 
without awkwardness ; in his countenance he was handsome 
without effeminacy; in his uttering of passion, the language of 
nature alone was communicated to the feelings of an audience. 
If any player deserved the character of an unique, he certainly 
had a just claim to it. Many of the principal characters in our 
best plays must now be either suffered to lie dormant until 
another genius like him shall rouse them into life and spirit, or 
the public must be content to see them imperfectly represented. 
T. Davies, " Life of Garrick." 

On his last appearance, in 1776, he was so infirm that before 
the curtain rose it was thought he could not support himself 
through the play ; but in spite of decay he played Jaffier with 
such a glow of love and tenderness, and such a heroic passion 
as thrilled the theatre, and spread even to the actors on the 
stage with him, though he was almost insensible when, after the 
fall of the curtain, he was led back to the green-room. There 
was, we are told, in Barry's whole person such a noble air of 
command, such elegance in his action, such regularity and ex- 
pressiveness in his features, in his voice such resources of 
melody, strength, and tenderness, that the greatest Parliamen- 
tary orators used to study his acting for the charm of its stately 
grace and the secret of its pathos. 2 Leslie's u Life of Reynolds" 



1 Sour old Gibber, who praised nobody, praised Barry. It is said 
he preferred his Othello to Betterton's or Booth's. Davies remembered 
seeing Gibber in the boxes on the first night of Barry's Othello "loudly 
applauding him by frequent clapping of his hands ; a practice by no means 
usual with the old man, even when he was very well pleased with an actor." 
In his autobiography, F. Reynolds tells us he remembers seeing Barry act 
Othello ' ' in a full suit of gold-laced scarlet, a small cocked-hat, knee breeches, 
and silk stockings, conspicuously displaying a pair of gouty legs." 

3 In 1747, wr: find Gilly Williams writing to George Selwyn : " I 



- 



Sfr auger Barry. 129 

I was once asked by Spranger Barry (who knew my skill in 
el rawing) to make his face for Lear. I went to his dressing- 
room and used my raim-1 hair pencil and Indian ink with, as I 
thought, a very venerable effect. When he came into the 
given-room royally dressed, asking some of the performers how 
he looked, Isaac Sparks, in his Lord Chief Joker way, remarked, 
' As you belong to the London Beef-steak Club, O'Keefe has 
made you peeping through a gridiron." Barry was so doubtful 
of his own excellence, that he used to consult the old ex- 
perienced stage carpenters, at rehearsals, to give him their 
opinion how he acted such-and-such a passage ; but used to 
call them aside for this purpose. This diffidence was more re- 
markable in Harry, who was the finest actor in his walk that hai 
;i->l>eared on the Kn^lish stage: Alexander, Romeo, Jajfier I 
John O'A'f./e's " Recollections." 

Harry was one of the old artificial school, who made his way 
more by person than by genius. Leigh Hunt. 
Harmonious Barry ! with what varied art 
His grief, rage, tenderness, assail'd the heart I 
Of plaintive Otway now no more the boast ! 
And Shakspeare grieves for his Othello lost ! A. Murphy. 
An actor of most extraordinary merit, which was confined, 
however, to tragedy and serious parts in comedies. In some 
respects it is questionable whether he did not excel every actor 
on the stage. These were in scenes and situations full of tender 
woe and domestic softness, to which his voice, which was mel- 
lifluous to wonder, lent astonishing assistance. In scenes of 
an opposite description he threw a majesty and a grandeur into 
his acting which gave it a most noble degree of elevation. 
These peculiar qualities, which he possessed in a very striking 
degree, were greatly manifest in the tender conflicts of the 
heart-wounded Othello and the haughty ravings of the high- 
minded Bajazet; and they were exquisitely blended in the fond 
yet kingly Alexander ; but certainly, beyond these requisites, 
Barry's acting did not extend in any eminent degree.- 
C. Dibdin* 

pratulate you on the near approach of Parliament, and figure yon to 
in) self before a glass at your rehearsals. I must intimate to you not to 
/oiget closing your periods with a significant stroke of the breast, and re- 
commend Mr. Barry as a pattern, who I think pathetically excels in that 
beauty." ED. 

1 The following curious letter, pretended to have been written by a 

K 



West Digges. 1 
1720-1786. 

He had studied the antiquated style of acting ; and Davies, 
in his " Dramatic Miscellanies," states him to have been 
the nearest resemblance of Cardinal Wolsey he had ever seen 
represented, if he had not sometimes been extravagant in 
gesture and quaint in elocution. In short, he was a fine bit of 
old stage buckram ; and Cato was therefore selected for his first 



French officer, who was prisoner of war in Ireland in 1759, offers an illus- 
tration of the Irish stage of that period : 

" I have been vid my friend, Mr. Moatlie, veri often at de Comedie, 
vhere is dam high price ; two livres and more for de gallerie ; von half 
carry you to de opera at de Parterre ; but, I am inform, dat de chef come- 
dians trait demselve like de men of qualite, and de actrices have large 
sallairie, vich make de grand price. Dey be juste as vid us, some good, 
some baad. De principals are Messrs. Barrie, Voodvar, Mosope, Spaarke. 
Barrie be de fine person, tall and veil made, and do veri veil in de tragedie, 
when he no take too much pain how he valk, staand, or torn about ; dat 
often spail all. Voodvar, when he do veil, is de inimitable ; but he chuse 
to please de canaile too often, vich bring de most monie. Mosope be de 
excellent for de tragedie, vich agree veil vid his phisonomie, person and 
vaice. 'Tis pity, vat I am told, dat he vas taght by anoder at de first, 
vich keep down his own genie. Spaarke be de camical dog, an make laaf 
all de varld vid his grimace. Dey could no do vidout him. Dere be oder 
comediens, who have deir merite. Dere is von Foote ; but I no like him, 
for mimique de Frenchman. Dere is anoder, I forget his name, who 
mimique nothing but one kettledrum, romble, romble, romble, toujours. 

" De vomen are all, vidout exceptions, dam ogly, vid ded eyes, for vant of 
red on de cheeck, no brilliancy, no life 'tall, or concupiscence vatever ; but 
in deir vay of playing (which be much vorse clan de French vay) von, too, 
or tree, be very good actrices. Von madum Fizenrie, morbleu ! fright me 
in von tragedie. 5 Tis de Franch tragedie pot in Englis, de Andromache, 
vich do vonderfully peint de power of love in voman's heart, in all de variete 
of strange pashons dat come, von after t'oder, or all togeder, vhen she re- 
solves on von man, and no oder for spouse. Mon dieu ! von time adore, 
von time hate de poor man ; vill have him kill, because she love : den kill 
de man dat kill dim, because she hate ! veri fine all ! but heven garde me 
from de like love. In oder parts, madam Fizenrie do veil, but is beste in 
von furie. Madame D'Ancere vid a leetle more red, would be veri lovely ; 
and is justly de Belle Angloise, but no de Franche beaute ; and yet dc most 
gaillarde among dem. She please moch all de milors always, de meny 
parts vel 'nough, an may have vat sallaire she please ; dat is, from 
maistre of de comedie as actrice." 

1 " Digges's real name was West. He was born in 1720, and was si 
j>osed to be the natural son of a nobleman. He was in the army, which 
quitted for the stage, and made his first appearance as an actor at Dublii 



West Digges. 131 

essay. He "discharged the character w in the same costume 
as, it is to be supposed, was adopted liy llouth, when the play 
was originally acted ; that is, in a shape, as it was technically 
termed, of the stiffest order; decorated with gilt leather upon a 
black ground, with Mark stockings, black gloves, and a powdered 
periwig. Foote had planted himself in the pit when Diggcs stalked 
on before the public, thus formidably accoutred; the malicious wag 
waited till the customary round of applause had subsided, and 
then ejaculated in a pretended undertone, " A Roman chimney- 
sweeper on May-day /" The laughter which this produced in 
the pit was enough to knock up a dttutant, and it startled 
the old stager personating the stoic of Utica. The sarcasm 
was irresistibly funny ; but Foote deserved to be kicked out of 
the house for his cruelty and his insolence in mingling with 
the audience for the purpose of disconcerting a brother actor. 
George Column. 

In my juvenile days some one gave me a note to Digges the 
actor, that he might put me in to see the play. I was brought 
through the dark lobbies and up and down many stairs and 
windings to his dressing-room, where I found him preparing him- 
self for his part that night of Young Norval. There were six 
large wax candles burning before him, and two dressers in atten- 
dance. I was struck with awe, almost to veneration. After suffer- 
ing me for a sufficient time to stare at him with astonishment, he 
said, " Take the child to the slips," and I was led through the 
carpenter's gallery, the cloudlings and thunder-boxes, and placed 
in a good seat, where I saw the play with great delight Digges was 
the best Macheath I ever saw in person, song and manner. O'Keefe. 

It gives me the greatest satisfaction to say that Digges was 
the very absolute Caratach of Fletcher (" Bonduca"). The solid 
bulk of his frame, his action, his voice, all marked him with 
identity. I mean assuredly to honour him when I say that it 
was quite equal to Kemble's Coriolanus in bold original con- 
ception and corresponding felicity of execution. Boadeti, "Life 
of Siddons? 

in 1749- In 1764 he acted in Edinburgh under the name of Bellamy, which 
cognomen he borrowed from the celebrated Mrs. Bellamy, with whom he 
was at that time living. He was here thrown into prison by his creditors, 
whence he escaped ; and eloped with a merchant's wife, leaving Edinburgh 
deeply involved in debt. In July, 1784, he was seized with paralysis while 
rehearsing Pierre to Mrs. Siddons's Belvidera^ on the Dublin stage. He was 
removed from the theatre and never acted more." Random Records. 

K 2 



'3-2 



Thomas Sheridan. 1 

17211788. 

.... In return I will tell you of Sheridan, wheat this instant 
is playing Cato, and has already played Richard twice. He had 
more company the second than the first night, and will make, 
I believe, a good figure on the whole, th'ough his faults seem to 
be very many ; some of natural deficience, and some of laborious 
affectation. He has, I think, no power of assuming either 
that dignity or elegance which some men, who have little of 
either in common life, can exhibit on the stage. His voice 
when strained is unpleasing, and when low is not always heard. 
He seems to think too much on the audience, and turns his 
face too often to the galleries. Dr. JoJinson? 



His action's always strong, but sometimes such 

That candour must declare he acts too much. 

Why must impatience fall three paces back ? 

Why paces three return to the attack ? 

Why is the right leg too, forbid to stir, 

Unless in motion semicircular? 

Why must the hero with the Nailor lie, 

And hurl the close-clench'd fist at nose or eye? 

In Royal John, with Philip angry grown, 

I thought he would have knock'd poor Davies down. 

Inhuman tyrant ! was it not a shame 

To fright a king so harmless and so tame ? 



1 Father of Richard Brinsley. His wife was a popular authoress ; a 
woman amiable and accomplished, of whom Dr. Parr wrote : " She was 
quite celestial ! both her virtues and her genius were highly esteemed. " 
ED. 

2 Johnson always professed great contempt for Sheridan. "He laughed 
heartily," says Boswell, "when I mentioned to him a saying of his con- 
cerning Mr. Thomas Sheridan, which Foote took a wicked pleasure to cir- 
culate. ' Why, sir, Sherry is dull, naturally dull ; but it must have taken 
him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an exces 
j>f stupidity is not in nature.' ' So,' said he, ' I allowed him all his owi 
inerit.' He now added, ' Sheridan cannot bear me. I bring his declamc 
tion to a point. I ask him a plain question, "What do you mean to 
teach?" Besides, sir, what influence can Mr. Sheridan have upon th 
language of this gr.eat countiy by his narrow exertions? Sir, it is burn in 
a farthing candle at Dover to show light at 'Calais.' " 






Thomas Sheridan. 133 

But spite of all defects his glories risc f 

And art, by judgment form'd, with nature vies 

\Vheiv lie i:ills short 'tis nature's fault alone, 

Where he succeeds, the merit's all his own. Churchill. 

He for many years presided over that theatre at Dublin, and 
at 1 >rury Lane; he in public estimation stood next to David Gar- 
rick. In the literary world he was distingushed by numerous and 
us, -till writings on the pronunciation of the English^ language. 
Through some of his opinions ran a vein of singularity mingled 
with the rich ore of genius. In his manners there was dignified 
easi , in his spirit invincible firmness, and in his habits and 
principles unsullied integrity. J)r. J\irr. 1 

Sheridan, an excellent actor, a man of strict honour, and a 
perfect gentleman, who, during a life of great credit and public 
utility, managed one of the theatres in Dublin, for the better 
purpose of conducting that kind of undertaking, wrote one 
dramatic piece, and altered three plays, the productions of other 
authors. C. JDibdin. 

To this gentleman we owe the decency that has been long 
wanting in the Hibernian stage, a difficulty no one person could 
have surmounted but himself; and though merit does not 
always meet its proper reward, yet the seeds of flowers and 
roots he had planted and sown in this theatrical garden, 
flourish sweet and amiable, and like a master in the art, reward 
follows his pains and judgment in culture. Chetwood. 

Poor Sherry has been acting mad, haranguing mad, teaching 
mad, reading mad, managing mad. England soon found out 
his incapacity, the dissonance of his voice, the laboured quaint- 
ness of his emphasis, the incessant flux of his speech, his general 
appearance. He has been despised as an actor. His audiences 
laughed him to scorn. Macklin. 

Neither in person nor voice had nature been very kind to 
Mr. Sheridan ; but his judgment, his learning, and close appli- 
cation to study, compensated in some degree for the want of 
external advantages. His manner, though certainly not very 
pleasing, was supposed to be his own, and not borrowed from 
an imitation of other actors. He had besides, the advantage of 
an excellent character in private life. T. Davics. 



1 Parr was a bad repetition of Johnson. He prefaced his speeches with 
"Sir," and rounded his colloquial phrases in a manner that to the ear 
seemed good Johnsonese. But the metal was base; the remarks emitted no 



134 



Samuel Foote. 
1721-1777. 

Boswell : " Foote has a great deal of humour." Johnson : 
" Yes, sir." Boswell : " He has a singular talent for exhibiting 
character." Johnson : "Sir, it is not a talent, it is a vice; it 
is what others abstain from. It is not comedy, which exhibits 
the character of a species, as that of a miser gathered from 
many misers ; it is farce, which exhibits individuals." Boswell : 
"Did not he think of exhibiting you, sir?" Johnson: "Sir, 
fear restrained him ; he knew I would have broken his bones. 
I would have saved him the trouble of cutting off a leg ; I 
would not have left him a leg to cut off." 1 Boswell : " Pray, 
sir, is not Foote an infidel ?" Johnson : " I do not know, 
sir, that the fellow is an infidel ; but if he be an infidel, he is 
an infidel as a dog is an infidel ; that is to say, he has never 
thought upon the subject." Boswell: " I suppose, sir, he 
has thought superficially, and seized the first notions that 
occurred to his mind." Johnson : " Why then, sir, still he is 
like a dog that snatches the piece next him. Did you ever 
observe that dogs have not the power of comparing ? A dog 
will take a small bit of meat as readily as a large, when both 
are before him." Life of Johnson. 

We have had frequent occasions for observing how the pass- 
ing events of the day were carried on the stage in comedies 



ring. He 'had not a spark of Johnson's sagacity. Besides, he was a 
better-tempered man. His simulated acerbity was laughable. In English 
literature I know nothing more foolish than his conversation which many 
years ago was published in the New Monthly Magazine by some little 
Boswell under the title of Parriana. Sydney Smith has celebrated his 
literary honesty ; this seems the only feature of his character that deserves 
praise. ED. 

1 " While upon a party of pleasure along with the Duke of York and 
some other noblemen, Foote met with an accident both adverse and fortu- 
nate. He was thrown from his- horse and his leg broken, so that an ampu- 
tation became necessary, which he endured with uncommon fortitude. In 
consequence of this accident, the Duke obtained for him the patent of the 
Haymarket Theatre during life. Strange as it may appear, with the aid 
of a cork leg he performed his former characters with no less agility and 
spirit than he had done before, and continued exhibiting his very laug 
able pieces, with his more laughable performances, to the most, crow 
houses. "- - Pcry A nccdoles. 



igh- 

" 



Samuel Foote, 1 3 5 

and pantomimes, as objects of satire. This species of farce was 
brought to perfection by Foote, whose great talent was that o( 
mimicry, and who delighted his audience by the exact manner 
in which he imitated the peculiarities and weaknesses of 
individual contemporaries. He was in all respects the great 
theatrical caricaturist of the age. The personality of the satire 
was the Ljrand characteristic of Foote's performances, and one 
which rendered them dangerous to society, and certainly not 
to be approved. An affront to the actor was at any time 
enough to cause the offender to be dragged before the world ; 
and matter in itself of the most libellous description was 
published without danger, under the fictitious name of a 
character, the resemblance of which to the original was 
sufficiently evident to the town. From such tribunals, neither 
elevation in society nor respectability of character is a pro- 
tection. 1 Thomas Wright. 

Fox told me that Lord William Bentinck once invited Foote 
to meet him and some others at dinner in St. James's Street ; 
and. that they were rather angry at Lord William for having done 
so, expecting that Foote would. prove only a bore, and a check 
on their conversation. " But," said Fox. " we soon found that 
we were mistaken ; whatever we talked about whether fox- 
hunting, the turf, or any other subject Foote instantly took 
the lead, and delighted us all." Rogers 's " Table Talk"* 

By turns transferred into all kinds of shapes, 

Constant to none, Foote laughs, cries, struts, and scrapes ; 



1 " I found fault," says Boswell, "with Foote for indulging his talent of 
ridicule at the expense of his visitors, which I colloquially termed, making 
fools of the company." Johnson : " Why, sir, when you go to see Foote, 
you do not go to see a saint ; you go to see a man who will be entertained 
at your house, and then bring you on a public stage ; who will entertain 
you at his house for the very purpose of bringing you on a public stage. 
Sir, he does not make fools of his company ; they whom he exposes are 
fools already ; he only brings them into action." 

2 Rogers tells another story of Foote. "One day Foote was taken into 
White's by a friend who wanted to write a note. Foote, standing in a 
room among strangers, appeared to feel not quite at ease. Lord Carmar- 
then, wishing to relieve his embarrassment, came up to speak to him ; but 
himself feeling rather shy, he merely said, ' Mr. Foote, your handkerchief 
is hanging out of your pocket ;' upon which Foote, looking suspiciously 
round, and hurriedly thrusting the handkerchief back into his pocket, 
replied, ' Thank you, my lord ; you know the company better than 
I do.'" 



136 Sa m 2 tcl Foote. 

Now in the centre, now in van or rear, 

The Proteus shifts, bawd, parson, auctioneer. 

His strokes of humour and his bursts of sport 

Are all contain'd in this one word, distort. 

Doth a man stutter, look asquint, or halt ? 

Mimics draw humour out of nature's fault ; 

With personal defects their mirth adorn, 

And hang misfortunes out to public scorn. Churchill. 

Everything we hear of Foote is in keeping. Behind him, on 
the Irish stage, he had left recollections of his harsh voice, his 
wink, and the smile that fitted " one corner of his mouth." 
The Irish players noted the theatrical selfishness with which he 
would never " give or take," never once thinking of his fellows 
when in presence of the audience, but trying to engross all 
the applause and attention. Even in acting this spirit made 
him always turn his full face to the audience, and never 
address his brethren. There was something gratuitous even in 
the manner of his buffoonery, as though he would have liked 
to know that it went home and annoyed the object of it. One 
instance, not hitherto known, is very characteristic. He was 
very pressing with the actor, Sheridan, to come to his theatre 
and see a new piece, placed him in a conspicuous box, and in 
the front row. He also got Sheridan's family to attend. The 
actor's amazement and anger may be conceived when he found 
that he had been brought to see a picture of himself, and that 
all the audience recognised him and his known peculiarities in 
Peter Primmer. P. Fitzgerald. 

Foote was by far a better scholar than Garrick ; and to this 
superiority he added also a good taste, a warm imagination, a 
strong turn for mimicry, and a constant fresh supply of extensive 
occasional reading, from the best authors of all descriptions. 
He could likewise supply all these advantages with great 
readiness ; so that either with his pen, or in conversation, he 
was never at a loss. Cooke. 

Mr. Foote, after he had successively presented his whimsical 
exhibitions, under the title of " Giving Tea," at the unusual time 
of twelve o'clock at noon, in the little theatre in the Hay- 
market, 1 began to apply himself to the writing of farces, or 



1 The little theatre in the Haymarket was built in 1 720 by Mr. Potter. 
Occupied for some time during the summer months by virtue of licences 



e* 



Samuel l^ootc. 137 

short comedies of two acts. These were some of his intro- 
ductory pieces to many others more regular and permanent 
Before he obtained the royal patent for acting plays in the 
theatre in the Haymarket, he frequently acted his pi. 
Drury Lane, in the beginning of the winter. Sometimes he 
ventured upon some important parts in old comedies, such as 
J'omllavife in the " Old Bachelor," Sir Paul Pliant in the 
" Double Dealer," and Ben in " Love for Love." His intimacy 
with people of the first rank contributed to support him in his 
feeble attempts upon the masterly characters of Congreve ; 
and it will scarce be credited that for three nights the boxes 
were crowded to see Foote blunder the part of Ben; for his 
acting bore no resemblance to nature and character. He was 
even destitute of what no man could suppose him to want, 
a proper confidence in his own abilities ; for sure his Ben was 
as unentertaining a lump of insipidity as ever a patient audience 
was presented with ; it was not even a lively mistake of 
humour. In his Fondlewife he had luckily remembered that 
great master of acting, Colley Gibber. In the course of the first 
scene, he drew the attention of the audience, and merited 
and gained much applause ; but, in the progress of the 
part, he forgot his exemplar, and degenerated into buffoonery. 
His Sir Paul Pliant was worse, if possible, than his Ben ; for 
fear restrained him from being outrageous in the sailor ; but in 
the knight he gave loose to the most ridiculous burlesque and 
vilest grimace. However, the people laughed heartily, and 
that he thought was a full approbation of his grotesque 
performance. In short, Foote was a most despicable player in 
almost all parts but those which he wrote for himself. 
T. Dames. 

By Foote's buffoonery and broad-faced merriment, private 
friendship, public decency, and everything estimable among 
men were trod under foot. Sir Joshua Reynolds. 

He was a very extraordinary man, and had talents which he 
abused. He abounded in wit, humour, and sense, but he was 
so fond of detraction and mimicry, that he might be properly 
called a buffoon ; and they were a great blemish in his reputa- 



from the Lord Chamberlain, it became in 1766 a theatre royal. The patent 
was granted to Foote, who pulled it down and rebuilt it, opening it in the 
following year. In 1777 Foote transferred it to the Elder Colman, who 
was succeeded by his son George Colman in 1794. It was once aguia 
pulled do-.vn, and rebuilt as we now have it. ED. 



138 Samuel Foote. 

tion, though he entertained you. He was generally civil to 
your face and seldom put you out of humour with yourself ; 
but you paid for his civility the moment you turned your back, 
and were sure of being made ridiculous. He was not so 
malignant as some I have known, but his excessive vanity led 
him into satire and ridicule. He was vain of his classical 
knowledge (which was but superficial) and of his family, and 
used to boast of his numerous relations in the west of England. 1 
He was most extravagant and baubling, but not generous. He 
delighted in buying rings, snuff-boxes, and toys, which were a 
great expense to him ; and he lost money at play, and was a 
dupe with all his parts. He loved wine and good living, and 
was a mighty pretender to skill in cookery, though he did not 
understand a table so well as he thought ; he affected to like 
dishes and ragoitts, and could not bear to eat plain beef or 
mutton, which showed he had a depraved appetite : he 
spared no expense in his dinners, and his wine was good. 
He was very disgusting in his manner of eating, and not clean 
in his person, but he was so pleasant and had such a flow of 

spirits, that his faults and foibles were overlooked He 

had a flat vulgar face, without expression ; but where a part was 
strongly ridiculous he succeeded, for .he always ran into farce ; 
go that I have often been surfeited with him on the stage, and 
never wished to see him twice in the same character. Gahagan* 
" Life of Siddons." 

Foote's earliest notices of me were far from flattering ; but 
though they had none of Goldsmith's tenderness, they had none 
of Johnson's ferocity; and when he accosted me with his usual 
salutation of " Blow your nose, child," there was a whimsical 



1 Foote's uncle, Captain Goodere, was hanged for the murder of his 
brother, Sir J. Dinely Goodere, Bart. Cooke, the translator of Hesiod, 
in introducing Foote into a club, said, "This is the nephew of the gen- 
tleman who was lately hung in chains for murdering his brother." ED. 

2 Gahaganwas the original of A ircastle, in Foote's " Cozeners." His habit 
of rambling in conversation is thus burlesqued by Foote: lt Aircastle : 
Did I not tell you what Parson Pmnello said ? I remember Mrs. Light- 
foot was by she had been brought to bed that day was a month of a very 
fine boy a bad birth ; for Dr. Seeton, who served his time with Luke 
Lancet, of Guise's there was also a talk about him and Nancy, the 
daughter she afterwards married Will Whitlow, another apprentice, who 
had great expectations from an old uncle in the Grenades ; but he left all 
to a distant relation, Kit Cable, a midshipman aboard the Torbay she was 
lost coming home in the channel the captain was taken up by a coaster 
from Rye, loaded with cheese," c. ED. 






Samuel Foote. 139 

manner and a broad grin upon his features which always made 
me laugh. The paradoxical celebrity he maintained upon the 
stage was very singular; his satirical sketches were ft 
dramas, and he could not be called a good legitimate performer. 
Yet there is no Shakspeare or Roscius upon record who, like 
Foote, supported a theatre for a series of years by his own 
acting, in Ins own writings, and for ten years of the time upon 
This prop to his person I once saw standing 
by his bedside, ready dressed in a handsome silk stocking, with 
a polished shoe and gold buckle, awaiting the owner's getting up. 
It had a kind of tragi-comical appearance ; and I leave to 
inveterate wags the ingenuity of punning upon a Foote in bed 
and a leg out of it. Caiman? " Random Records" 

Foote set out for the Continent, but died at an inn in Dover, 
October 2ist, 1777. In the church of St. Mary, in that town, 
there is a monument to his memory ; and it has been generally 
imagined that Foote was buried there. Such, however, is not 
the fact. Mr. Jewell, at the representation of half the actors 
and dramatists of the day, brought the body to London, in order 
that it might be publicly interred in Westminster Abbey ; but 
after he had taken this step, no funds were forthcoming, and he 
buried his friend at his own expense in the cloisters. Recol- 
lections of Bannister. 

Foote, of all men the most caustic, furnishes an anecdote 
illustrative of his having been not wholly the compound of 
cayenne and vitriol for which the world gave him credit. 
He had regard probably but for a few ; but among those few 
was Weston the actor, a man of considerable ability in his 
profession. Foote had his portrait painted, and on leaving 
town for his journey to Dover in search of health a journey 
which was his last he went into the room where the picture 
hung, made a full stop before it, firmly fixed his eyes on the 
countenance until the tears started into them, and then turning 
away, exclaimed, " Poor Weston !" Then, as if in reproach of his 



1 George Colman was born in 1762. He was a prolific play- writer, and 
it is said that he received for one of his plays a larger sum than was ever 
before given for a dramatic performance: this was his "John Bull." 
His most popular pieces were, "The Surrender of Calais," "The 
Mountaineers," "The Iron Chest" (taken from Godwin's novel of 
"Caleb Williams"), "The Heir-at-Law*" and the "Poor Gentleman." 
He died in 1836, aged seventy-four. He was long manager of the 1 lay- 
market Theatre. ED. 



140 Samuel Foote. 

own seeming security, after a moment's meditation lie uttered, 
" Poor Weston ! it will be soon ' Poor Foote ! ' or the intel- 
ligence of my spirits deceives me." It did not deceive him. 
BlackwoocC s Magazine p , 1841. 

Foote's talents are generally admitted, though we think not 
fully appreciated, for we believe him to be, after Moliere (and 
not longo intervallo), the greatest master of comic humour that 
ever lived ; and he acted incomparably what he wrote inimitably. 
Quarterly Review? 

Foote, as all of the old school know full well, could transform 
himself into almost every remarkable character, from the court 



1 Foote's wit is well illustrated by the following anecdotes : One night, at 
his friend Delaval's, one of the party would suddenly have fixed a quarrel 
upon him for his indulgence of personal satire. " Why, what would you 
have ?" exclaimed Foote, good-humouredly putting it aside. " Of course I take 
all my friends off, but I use them no worse than myself. I take myse/foff." 
" Gadso !" cried the gentleman, " that I should like to see." Upon this, 
Foote took his hat and left the room. The Duke of Cumberland came one 
night into the green-room. " Well, Foote," said he, " here I am, ready, as 
usual, to swallow all your good things." " Really," replied Foote, " your 
royal highness must have an excellent digestion, for you never bring up any 
again." "Why are you forever humming that air?" he asked a man. 
"Because it haunts me?" "No wonder," said Foote; "you are for ever 
murdering it." Much bored by a pompous physician at Bath, who con- 
fided to him as a great secret that he had a mind to publish his own poems, 
but had so many irons in the fire he really did not know well what to do. 
" Take my advice, doctor," said Foote, " and put your poems where yoiir 
irons are." " There is a witty, satirical story of Foote," says Dr. Johnson. 
" He had a small bust of Garrick placed upon his bureau. ' You may be 
surprised,' said he, 'that I allow him to be so near my gold ; but you will 
observe he has no hands.' " Garrick and Feote, leaving a hotel, the latter 
dropped a guinea. Impatient at not immediately finding it, " Where on 
earth can it begone to?" he said. "Gone to the devil, I think," said 
Garrick, -who had sought for it everywhere. "Well said, David," cried 
Foote ; "let you alone for making a guinea go further than anybody else."- 
Macklin's topic, one evening, at his tavern, was the employment of 
memory in connexion with oratory. He took occasion to say that he had 
brought his memory to such perfection that he could recite anything at 
once hearing it. The lecture being concluded, Foote handed Macklin the 
following sentences, desiring he would read them once, and then repeat 
them : " So she went into the garden to cut a cabbnge-leaf, to make an 
apple-pie ; and at the same time a great she-bear coming up the street, 
pops its head into the shop. 'What! no soap?" So he died, and she 
very imprudently married the barber ; and there were present the 
Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garynlies, and the Grand Panjan- 
drum himself, with the little round button at top ; and they all fell to 
playing the game of catch-as-catch-can till the gunpowder ran out of the 
heels of their boots." The laugh was not with Macklin. ED. 



Sa in u el Foote. 1 4 1 

end of the town to Whitcchapel. I mean those characters who 
were distinguished by some super-eminent qualities that fitted 
them for his caricatura, in that age of humorists. His 
imitation of French-broken-Knglish, as I have heard my 
uncle Zachary say, was very lively, not equal to Jemmy 
Spiller's, but as good as Ned Shuter's upon the whole, being 
rather more polite. But his Anglo-German was inimitable. 
It is true he was apt to abuse this original faculty, and 
sought, as his temper or his interest suited, to play off his 
ridicule at the expense of friend and foe alike. Wine and 
// 'nl nuts. 

Mr. Foote was a man of wonderful abilities, and the most 
entertaining companion I have ever known. Garrick. 

Sure if ever one person possessed the talents of pleasing 
more than another, Mr. Foote was the man. Tote Wil- 
kinson. 

Foote, an admirable but a most mischievous writer, who 
emulated Aristophanes with less genius and less feeling, who 
seemed fondly to fancy that to torture individuals was the only 
way to delight their fellow-creatures, measuring their pleasure 
by his malignity, who knew no quality of satire but personality, 
who would sacrifice his best friend for the gratification of tor- 
menting him, and who, after all, was perpetually the cat's-paw to 
his own vanity, created, among the fastidious, the sour, and the 
heart-burnt, a sort of veneration for that exotic from Greece, 
the middle comedy, which, greatly to the honour of the manly 
and benevolent character of the English, may have a dwindling 
and a rickety existence, but can never flourish to maturity in 
this country. C. Dibdin. 

Foote sent a copy of his farce, " The Minor," to the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, requesting that if his friend should see 
anything objectionable in it, he would strike it out or correct it. 
The Archbishop returned it untouched, observing to a friend 
that he was sure Foote had only laid a trap for him, and that if 
he had put his pen to the manuscript, Foote would have ad- 
vertised the play as "corrected and prepared for the stage by 
his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury." Theatrical Anec- 
dotes. 



142 

Thomas Weston. 

1727-1776. 

Poor Weston ! Hurry was one of his last parts, and was 
taken from real life. I need not tell those who remember this 
genuine representer of nature, that in Hurry, as in all other 
characters which he acted, he threw the audience into loud fits 
of mirth, without discomposing a muscle of his features. 
Weston has left no resemblance of his indefinable simplicity. 
T. Davies. 

This actor has always been placed at the head of his class, 
and had merely to show himself to accomplish the full task of 
the low comedian. Weston was Abel D rugger himself; so that, 
as of later days in the case of Emery, it might be almost ques- 
tioned whether it were acting at all, since the man exerted pre- 
cisely the same feeling in his profession and out of it. Boaden. 

Weston was another of nature's wonders. He seemed as if 
he possessed neither idea nor conception, yet was he endowed 
with so many chaste and felicitous gifts, that he uttered rather 
than acted ; but it was such utterance that the most accomplished 
acting never excelled. The French know nothing of such 
actors as Shuter and Weston. C. Dibdin. 

One evening, when Weston was announced to play Scrub 
and Garrick Archer, in the course of the day he sent to Mr. 
Garrick, in a letter requesting a loan of money, as he was con- 
tinually in the practice of doing, under the impression that he 
was arrested. This Garrick at last discovered, and in conse- 
quence refused sending at that time what Weston had requested ; 
upon which the latter neglected going to the theatre at his 
usual time ; and when the hour of performance arrived, Garrick 
came forward and said as follows : " Ladies and gentlemen, 
Mr. Weston being taken suddenly ill, he is not capable of ap- 
pearing before you this evening; and therefore, if it meets 
your approbation, I will perform the part of Scrub in his stead." 
Weston being in the two-shilling gallery with a sham bailiff, 
hallooed out, " I am here, and can't come ; I am arrested." 
Upon which the audience sided with Weston, by insisting he 
should play the part, which the manager was obliged to ac- 
quiesce in, by paying the supposed debt, to the no small mor- 
tification of David, Spirit of the Public Journals, 1825. 






M3 

Edward Shuter. 
1728-1776. 

Shuter, who never cared a single pin 

Whether he left out nonsense or put in ; 

Who aim'd at wit, though levell'd in the dark, 

The random arrow seldom hit the mark. Churchill. 

There was Shuter, whom it was sr.id Mr. Garrick pronounced 
the greatest comic genius he had ever seen. It struck one who 
had seen him in his leading parts that a simplicity and a luxu- 
rious humour were his characteristics. Yet it must have been 
disfigured by what is known to stage slang as gagging. Fitz- 
gerald. 

A late comic actor of great merit, whose overflow of comic 
vivacity often degenerated into buffoonery. T. Davies. 

Poor Ned was indeed the delight of the galleries. His 
humour was broad and voluptuous, but never seemed richer 
than conviviality produces : the bottle was the sun of his table, 
and he neither had nor sought any higher inspiration. Yet he 
was an enthusiast in his worship, and enthusiasm led him into 
excess unthinking levity commonly borders on vice. Shuter, 
1 have heard, added gaming to ebriety, and lost his money 
commonly soon after his wits. The supplies would frequently 
run -low, and friends, however wanted, were not always at home. 
On such occasions the irregular son of merriment is apt to trust 
to the common refuge of the needy ; but he kept up his spirits 
only to the forty-eighth year of his age, and then dropped into that 
receptacle of humour, St. Paul's, Covent Garden. Boaden? 

This performer was once engaged for a few nights in a prin- 
cipal city in the north of England. It happened that the stage 
that he went down in (and in which there was only an old gen- 
tleman and himself) was stopped on the road by a single high- 
wayman. The old gentleman, in order to save his own money, 



1 " When Woodward and Garrick and Ned Shuter and old Parsons," we 
are told, "met at the same table, there was more hilarity, more quaint 
and comical development of character, than ever was seen exhibited on the 
stage." Barry was another who told a story well ; though Garrick used to 
say, " At an Irish story I will yield the palm to Spranger ; but I'll beat 
him any day in every other walk." 



144 Edward Shuter. 

pretended to be asleep ; but Shuter resolved to be even with 
him. Accordingly, when the highwayman presented his pistol, 
and commanded Shuter to deliver his money instantly, or he 
was a dead man " Money !" returned he, with an idiotic shrug, 
and a countenance inexpressibly vacant " oh ! Lud, sir, they 
never trust me \vith any ; for nuncle here always pays for me, 
turnpikes and all, your honour !" Upon which the highway- 
man gave him a few curses for his stupidity, complimented the 
old gentleman with a smart slap on the face to awaken him, and 
robbed him of every shilling he had in his pocket ; while Shuter, 
who did not lose a single farthing, pursued his journey with 
great satisfaction and merriment, laughing heartily at his fellow- 
traveller. Theatrical Anecdotes. 

The celebrated Ned Shuter delighted to exhibit his eccen- 
tricities amongst the lowest company in St. Giles's, where he 
has been known more than once to treat a dozen of the rabble 
with drams and strong beer. His sober apology for such ab- 
surdities was, that in his walk of the drama it was necessary 
he should know life from the prince to the beggar, in order to 
represent them as occasion might require. Percy Anecdotes. 

This gay spark, when a lad about twelve or fourteen years 
old, was a livery servant to Lampe, composer for Covent 
Garden Theatre. " Shuter was a special Pickle" says Dr. Bur- 
ney, " who took off all the performers. At this time Lampe was 
with a provincial company of players at Chester, among whom 
was Jemmy Worsdale, the painter, celebrated for being the go- 
between in the affair between Pope and Curll. Worsdale was 
also an actor who was famed for singing Harry Carey's song of 
* Young Roger came Tapping at Dolly's Window.' Master Ned 
took the liberty of mimicking his master in this, and hit him off 
so much to the admiration of the wits, that it was with difficulty 
he .escaped broken bones." 1 Wine and Walnuts. 

The origin of Shuter, the great comedian, is unknown ; one 
Chapman, an actor and dramatist, who died at an advanced 



1 The following story may be given as a specimen of Shuter's wit. A 
friend overtaking him one day in the street, said to him, "Why, Ned, 
aren't you ashamed to walk the streets with twenty holes in your stockings ? 
Why don't you get them mended ?" " No, my friend," said Shuter, " I am 
above it ; and if you have the pride of a gentleman, you will act like me, 
and walk rather with twenty holes than have one darn." "Howdoyov 
make that out?" " Why," said Sh'i 4 .or. " a hole is the accident of the 
but a darn \& premeditated poverty ** 



Edwart i Sh nter. \ 4 5 

age in 1757, was the only person who professed to know any- 
thing of him. Shuter himself said, " I suppose I must have had 
parents, but I never remember having friends." Records of a 
Veteran. 

Shuter, whose strong nature and irresistible humour were 
highly and peculiarly diverting, must be ranked as a theatrical 
wonder. Neither on the French nor on the English stage do 
we find any one to whom we can compare him. His strong 
conception, his laughable manner, his perpetual diversity, were 
his own, and were displayed in a thousand various fo ms ; 
always extraordinary, and yet always in nature. The extremes 
of life were never so critically displayed as by Shuter. His per- 
formance of the Miser and Master Stephen are incontrover- 
tible- proofs of this remark. Has any one seen him in Corbaccio, 
and will he tell me that acting ever went beyond it? When he 
went out of his way, so the question was humour, could any- 
thing be superior to Shuter ? I look upon him, as far as it 
went, to have been one of the best burletta singers in the world. 
Nothing on earth could have been superior to his Midas. His 
great fault was indolence, but eccentric qualities will naturally 
be accompanied by eccentric conduct. Thus we perceive in 
his acting great inequalities, but those parts of it that were 
sterling were invaluably so. C. Dibdin. 

Shuter, who was the fiddle of every company he went into, 
had notwithstanding an aversion to be considered merely a 
buffoon and a jester; for the fact is, Shuter uttered a great 
many brilliant things, some of them far beyond the comprehen- 
sion of those whose society he frequented. He happened to 
dine in a promiscuous company who were on tiptoe in expec- 
tation of hearing something witty from him ; or, in their own 
words, that he would be comical. He began, in his own lan- 
guage, " to twig them," and was determined not to open his 
mouth. At length, the cloth having been removed, one of the 
company could no longer bear to be tantalized, and chuckled 
out, " Come, Mr. Shuter, when do you intend to begin to be 
comical ?" " Gad !" said Shuter, " I forgot my fool's dress ; 
however, I'll go and fetch it, if you will be my substitute until 
my return." The man thought this very comical, and declared 
he would. Shuter then took his hat and cane and went away, 
and did not return at all. Dibdirfs " Professional Life? 



John Moody. 
1728-1813. 

Long from a nation 1 ever hardly used, 
At random censured, wantonly abused, 
Have Britons drawn their sport with partial view, 
Form'd general notions from the rascal few ; 
Condemn'd a people, as for vices known, 
Which, from their country banish'd, seek our own. 
Taught by thee, MOODY, we now learn to raise 
Mirth from their foibles from their virtues praise. 

Churchill. 

There was a dry, sluggish determination about Moody that 
rendered his Strap very efficient. His manner was peculiar, 
but he was a valuable actor and most respectable man. Boctden. 

Mathews was one day invited to dine at the house of a 
friend at Chiswick, where Moody, once a celebrated actor, was 
to be of the party. Moody had long left the stage, and was 
then a very old, but very fine remnant of what he had been. 
During dinner he talked with great animation, brought back 
his theatrical reminiscences, and, in short, exhibited no sign what- 
ever of mental decay. Mathews exerted himself to amuse this 
Nestor of the boards, and was honoured by the declaration 
" that Garrick himself was not greater in what he did."- At 
length Moody was asked for a song ; he complied, singing in 
strong though uneven tones the old Scottish " We're a' noddin," 
which, however, he gave with a strong Irish accent. When he 
had reached nearly the end of the second verse, he suddenly 
stopped. All waited awhile, thinking that he was pausing to 
revive his memory. At length his host gently said, " Mr. 
Moody, I am afraid the words have escaped you." "Words, 
sir ! what words ?" asked the old man, with a look of great 
surprise. " The words of your song." " Song ! what song, 
sir?" "The rest of the song you have been so kind as to 
favour us with * We're a' noddin,' of which you have sung one 
verse." " Heaven bless you, sir !" said Moody, hastily, " I 
have not sung a song these ten years, and shall never sing 
again : I am too old to sing, sir." " Well, but you have 
oeen singing, and very well, too." To this Moody, with agita- 



1 Ireland. 






Henry Mo s sop. 147 

tion and earnestness, replied, " No, no, sir ; I have not sung for 
years. Singing is out of the question at my time of life." All 
looked at each other, and then at the old man, who exhibited 
in his face and manner such an evident unconsciousness that it 
was felt unfit to advert any further to the subject. This was 
an affecting evidence of partial decay. Life of Mathnus. 

The immovable features of Moody, who, afraid of o'erstep- 
nature, sometimes stopped short of her. Mrs. Mathews. 

. \moii- the traits of stupidity put to the account of actors, by 
droll unrehearsed effects have been produced on the 
there is none that is supposed to convey greater proof of 
stupidity than that which distinguished the actor who originally 
represented Lord Burghley in the "Critic." The names of 
several players are mentioned, each as being the hero of this 
story ; but the original Lord Burghley, or Burleigh, was Irish 
Moody, far too acute an actor to be suspected for a fool. 
When Sheridan selected him for the part, the manager declared 
that Moody would be sure to commit some ridiculous error, 
and ruin the effect. The author protested that such a result 
was impossible ; and, according to the fashion of the times, a 
wager was laid, and Sheridan hurried to the performer of the 
part to give him such instructions as should render any mis- 
take beyond possibility. Lord Burghley has nothing to say, 
merely to sit awhile ; and then, as the stage directions informed 
him, and as Sheridan impressed it on his mind, "Lord Burghley 
c.omes forward, pauses near Dangle, shakes his head, and exit." 
The actor thoroughly understood the direction, he said, and 
could not err. At night he came forward, did pass near Dangle, 
shook his Dangle' s head, and went solemnly off. Cornhill 
Magazine, 1867. 

Henry Mossop. 

1729-1773. 

With studied impropriety of speech 
He soars beyond the hackney 'd critic's reach ; 
To epithets allots emphatic state, 
Whilst principals, ungrac'd, like lacqueys wait. 
In ways first trodden by himself excels, 
And stands alone in undeclinables. 
Conjunction, preposition, adverb join, 
To stamp new vigour on the nervous liner 
L 2 



(48 Henry Mas sop. 

In monosyllables his thunders roll, 

He, she, it, and, we, ye, they, fright the soul. 1 

Churchill. 

His port was majestic and commanding, his voice strong 
and articulate, and audible even in a whisper, and a fine, 
speaking, dark hazel eye. Tate Wilkinson. 

Mr. Mossop was an actor of so established a reputation, and 
of such eminent merit, that his history and misfortunes deserve 

to be recorded Notwithstanding he was utterly void of grace 

in deportment and dignity in action, that he was awkward in 
his whole behaviour, and hard sometimes in his expression, I 
observed that he was, in degree of stage excellence, the third 
actor a Garrick and a Barry only were his superiors ; in parts 
of vehemence and rage he was almost unequalled, and in senti- 
mental gravity, from the power of his voice, and the justness 
of his conceptions, he was a very commanding speaker. It is 
not to be wondered that Mossop wished to act the lover and 
the hero. To aim at general excellence is laudable ; but re- 
peated unsuccessful trials could not convince him that he was 

utterly unfit for tenderness or joy, for gaiety and vivacity He 

was always best where he could conceal by the disguise of age 
or dress his shambling walk and his ungainly action. 2 T. 
Ddvies. 

1 There has been preserved one of Mossop's parts, interlined with his 
ideas as to how the sentences should be delivered. It is an odd illustration 
of the bad mechanic acting of the school of Quin. For instance, over the 
sentence, 

" This paper has undone me 'tis the account !" 

Mossop writes, Vast throbs of feeling. Over 

" Is there no way to cure this ? 

No new device to beat this from his brains ?" 

Face full to audience. Side look. Cunning, fretful, and musing. Swelling 
inward. Over 

" I have toucht the highest pinnacle of my greatness," 

G tone, with feeling, but low. Clearly Mossop knew nothing of spontaneity 
of acting ; of the enthusiasm that abandons all sense of identity, and is 
prompted only by the immediate impulse of the moment. ED, 

2 One of Henderson's imitations was a conversation between a nobleman 
and Garrick, relative to the merits of Mossop's acting. The satire is two- 
edged, as it not only represents Mossop as a noisy declaimer, whilst it calls i 
him a Bull, a Paviour, a Teapot, but it exhibits Garrick as a sycophant, ' 
labouring against his own judgment, to agree with the nobleman. ED. 



Hi v/ ry yl/6U \(>p> 149 

While Garrick's sun was verging to its decline, Mcssop came 
before the public with extraordinary promise. He had been 
educated at the Irish University, and intended for the Church ; 
but Garrick was his tempter. He had seen this memorable 
actor on the Irish stage, and thenceforth determined to be an 
actor, or nothing. His first appearance was in Zanga. His 
talents in that part surprised every one, and he was eminent at 
once ; but with striking abilities he had the great drawback 
of an irritable temper. He quarrelled with mankind, begin- 
ning with the manager. He soon after left Ireland, and made 
his first step on the London boards in " Richard III." His 
style of acting seems strongly to have resembled that of Kean 
in the present day singularly vivid, subtle, and forcible, but 
with the defects of abruptness of delivery and irregularity of 
performance. He had another grand imperfection that of 
believing that his talents were as unlimited as his ambition. 
He grasped at all the leading characters without discrimination, 
and of course played many of them without effect. Quitting 
Drury Lane in high displeasure, he returned to Ireland. There 
was but another step to ruin, and he took it without delay. 
Inflamed with the mania of management, he declared " there 
should be but one theatre in Ireland, and that he would be at 
the head of it." A declaration of this kind was a declaration 
of war with the theatricnl world. Mossop found himself 
wrapped in universal hostility. He began his career with 
flying colours, disdained to listen to an offer of iooo/. a year 
to remain with Barry and Woodward, and rushed headlong 
into ruin. After seven years of hopeless toil he became bank- 
rupt, abandoned Ireland, and returned to England. His 
health sank rapidly ; he roved about with a drooping counte- 
nance and a worn-out frame, answering every inquiry for his 
health by saying " that he was better," and every inquiry into 
the state of his finances by saying " that he wanted nothing." 
If his life had been prolonged, he would probably have lived a 
lunatic; but he was suddenly found dead in his bed, with only 
fourpence in his possession. Blackwood's Magazine, 1841. 

One night in the green-room, while Mossop stood talking to 
some of the other performers, with his back to the fire, and 
himself dressed in full puff as Cardi?ial Wolsey, with rich crim- 
son satin robe, lace apron, and cardinal's hat, the call-boy, in 
the course of his duty, came to the door, and after first looking 
at the paper he had in his hand for the names he had to call, 



1 50 Henry Mossop. 

said aloud, as was proper, " Mr. Mossop." "Gone up the 
chimney !" was the thoughtless answer of the great actor and 
manager. " Glad of it, sir !" was the pert reply of the call-boy, 
who went his way immediately. Mossop, with whom it was 
at that time a point of strong expediency to maintain his dig 
nity and keep on the stilts, was suddenly struck with confusion 
at his imprudence. He turned away from the half-averted 
looks of the vexed performers, and inwardly censured himself 
for thus absurdly lowering his own importance. O'Keefe. 

Mossop was so correct and particular, that in the parts he 
studied from (one of which I saw and heard) he had marked 
in the margin even the expression of the face, the raising and 
lowering of an eyebrow, and the projection of an under lip. 
In his acting he had a certain distinct spot upon the stage for 
almost every speech. One night, " Venice Preserved " being 
the play, Knight, who was the Reinhold, being rather imper- 
fect, requested the prompter to take care and watch him. " I 
will," said the prompter, " when you are at my side ; but when 
you are O. P., I cannot be bawling to you across the stage." 
" Never mind that" replied Knight ; " that's my business." 
All went on well until the scene of the meeting of the conspi- 
rators, when Mossop (the Pierre), according to settled business, 
had to cross over to the prompter's side. Accordingly he 
would have advanced exactly to the spot ; but there stuck 
Reinhold! Mossop in an under tone desired him to get out of 
his way. " I cannot, sir," he replied, still keeping his ear as 
close as possible to the prompter and his book. This rather 
heightened the fury of the embarrassed Pierre. After a few 
ineffectual attempts to drive Knight from his post, Mossop 
went on ; and never was the reproof against the conspirators, 
particularly Reinhold, spoken by Mossop with more spirit and 
bitterness than upon that night. Ibid. 

Mossop, from all I can collect, was a commanding but never 
an agreeable actor. There are various ways of convincing the 
mind. We are convinced by subtlety, by plausibility, by blan- 
dishment, and by eloquence ; but we can also be convinced 
by perseverance, by confidence, by earnestness, and even by 
vehemence. These latter qualities seem to have been Mossop's 
mode of convincing an audience with an admiration of him, 
which, with all his pomp, his stiffness, his peculiarity, and his 
affectation, he contrived to bring about. I have heard Mossop 
praised for great and commanding powers in tragedy, such as 



Mrs. Hamilton. 151 

no other actor ever possessed ; and it has been insisted that if 
he was quaint and starched at times, he was at other times 
grand and CDC! d indeed that his influence over the 

feelings of his auditors was irresistible. The mind, however, 
is not very fond of being threatened into pleasure: nor are 
those confessions very sincere that are effected by compulsion. 
We cannot, therefore, reasonably acquiesce in the opinions of 
either the admirers or di.M-iplcs of Mossop. C. Dibdin. 

An iron-throated tragedian. He was a man of education 
reared in Trinity College, Dublin, which had thus turned out 
no less than four first-class tragedians ; gifted with a strong and 
umnelodious declamation, and a physical strength that would 
have carried him through such tremendous parts as Sir Giles or 
Richard. But his action was singularly ungraceful, and in the 
more level passages fell into the wearying monotony which was 
the curse of old stage-declamation. P. Fitzgerald. 

The late Mr. Mossop always spoke in heroics. A cobbler 
in Dublin who once brought him home his boots, refused to 
leave them without the money. Mossop returned during the 
time he was disputing, and looking sternly, exclaimed, " Tell 
me, are you the noted cobbler I oft have heard of?" " Yes," 
says the fellow ; " and I think you are the diverting vagabond 
I have often seen." Wewitzet*s " Dramatic Reminiscences" 

Mrs. Hamilton. 

1730-1788. 

Mrs. Hamilton belonged to Covent Garden Theatre in 1758. 
This lady and Mrs. Bellamy had a violent altercation. The 
latter's benefit being fixed on a night that happened to be Mrs. 
Gibber's at the other house, she requested Mrs. Hamilton to let 
her have her Monday, and take in exchange her Saturday ; 
who, as her interest did not lie among the box people, and for 
the credit sake of having the first benefit in the season, com- 
plied. She accordingly fixed on " The Rival Queens ;" and 
notwithstanding it happened to be a wet afternoon, a great 
concourse of people for the second gallery attended. As soon 
as that part of the house was full, she disposed of the overflow 
in the boxes and on the stage, wisely preferring their two 
shillings apiece to empty benches. In the words of Mrs. Bel- 
lamy, " The heat of the house occasioned the wet clothes of the 
dripping audience to send forth odours not quite so sweet as 



152 Mrs. Hamilton. 

those of Arabia." This lady having cast some reflections on 
the vulgarity of Mrs. Hamilton's audience, the latter took the 
following mode of revenge on the night of Mrs. Bellamy's 
benefit : The play which she had fixed on was the " Careless 
Husband," thus cast : Sir C. Easy, Mr. Ross ; l Lord Foppington, 
Mr. Smith ; Lord Morelove, Mr. Ridout f Lady Easy, Mrs. 
Elmy ; 3 Edging J&rs. Nossister ; Lady Graveairs, Mrs. Hamilton. 
With the entertainment of " Florizel and Perdita ;" Florizel, 
Mr. Smith ; Antolycns, Mr. Shuter ; King, Mr. Ridout ; 
Shepherd, Mr. Sparks ; 4 Clown, Mr. Costello ; and Perdita, Mrs. 
Bellamy. At half an hour after six, just before the play should 
have begun, she sent Mrs. Bellamy word that she would not 
perform the character of Lady Graveairs. It became necessary, 
from so late a disappointment, to make an apology to the 
audience for the delay that must ensue. Ross, who loved 
mischief as well as he had done while at Westminster School, 
and in which he had generally a share, as he had this evening, 
by having stimulated Mrs. Hamilton to the refusal of her 
services, enjoyed the storm, and consequently would not make 
an apology. Smith was so agitated, it being the first time of 
his attempting Lord Foppington, that he could not do it. Poor 
Lady Jktty Modish was therefore obliged to show her flounces 
and furbelows before their time, in order to request the patience 
of the audience until Mrs. Vincent could dress for the part 
which Mrs. Hamilton was to have performed. Mrs. Bellamy's 
petition was granted, as she herself relates, " with repeated 
plaudits, and with an assurance from Mr. Town and his associates 
that they would revenge her cause." This they did the very 
next night, when Mrs. Hamilton played Qiiecn, in the "Spanish 



1 David Ross, bom 1728, is described by Dibdin as a voluptuous man, 
and particularly a great eater ; therefore he had not the perseverance to 
give the necessary attention to his profession, and thus he happened to be 
admirable or insufferable in proportion as he was more or less plethoric. 
ED. 

2 Ridout died in 1760. ED. 

3 Her maiden name was Mors. Her qualifications for the stage, which 
were considerable, were marred by a weak voice. She does not seem tc 
have been happy as a wife, to judge from a little note of Chetwood 
" Mr. Elmy, her husband, I know, was born at Norwich ; but where he 
now, I believe neither she nor I can tell." ED. 

4 There were two Mr. Sparks's Luke and Isaac. Luke was dis 
finguished by his amiability and his general usefulness ; Isaac lor his 
aianding form and flow of humour. ED. 



Arthur Murphy. 153 

Fryar," and Mrs. Bellamy Elvira, for the benefit of Mr. Sparks. 
The majesty of Spain then appeared in all the pomp of false 
jewels. She was so remarkably fond of these gems, that Colley 
Cil>l>er compared her head to a furze-bush stuck round with 
glow-worms, as her hair was extremely dark, and she had an 
(il.jrrtion to wearing powder. Upon her entrance she was 
saluted in a warmer manner than she wished, and was pre- 
vented for some time from speaking by hisses. At length, on 
the tumult ceasing, she advanced and addressed the audience 
thus : " Gemmen and ladies : I suppose as how you hiss me 
because I did not play at Mrs. Bellamy's benefit. I would have 
performed, but she said as how my audience stunk, and were 
all tripe people." When the fair speechifier got thus far the pit 
roared out, " Well said, Tripe 1" a title which she retained until 
she quitted the theatre. Memoir of Mrs. Hamilton, 1803. 

Arthur Murphy. 
1730-1805. 

As one with various disappointments sad, 
Whom dulness only kept from being mad, 
Apart from all the rest great Murphy came 
Common to. fools and wits, the rage of fame. 
What tho' the sons of nonsense hail him sire, 
Auditor, author, manager, and squire, 
His restless soul's ambition stops not there 
To make his triumphs perfect, dub him player. 
In person tall, a figure form'd to please, 
If symmetry could charm, deprived of ease ; 
When motionless he stands we all approve ; 
What pity 'tis the thing was made to move ! . . . . 
Still in extremes he knows no happy mean, 
Or raving mad, or stupidly serene. 
In cold-wrought scenes the lifeless actor flags ; 
In passion, tears the passion into rags. 
Can none remember ? Yes I know all must 
When in the Moor he ground his teeth to dust, 
When o'er the stage he folly's standard bore, 
Whilst common-sense stood trembling at the door. 

Churchill 

Murphy, in his early life, acted Othello, Archer, Jafficr, and 



154 Arthur Murphy. 

other parts at Covent Garden, where he was engaged for a 
season or two ; but as his success was not great, he left the 
stage for the bar, and in after life became a Commissioner of 
Bankrupts. He made some remark on Lewis's acting that dis- 
pleased the latter, who said, "Tell Mr. Murphy, if justice 
instead of law had been consulted, he would not have gone 
to the bar, but have been sent to it." " Murdering a Moor" 
(i.e., Othello) was the crime imputed to him by Lewis. 
Records of a Stage Veteran. 

He lived upon potted stories, and made his way as Hannibal 
did, by vinegar ; having begun by attacking people, especially 
the players. T. Davies. 

Mr. Murphy was intended for business, has been a party 
man, was an actor, a dramatic writer, and at length a barrister, 
about which a great deal has been said ; but how any part of 
it can, as fact, tell to his disadvantage is beyond the admission 
of my capacity. All professions are honourable, if they are 
honourably borne ; but the ipse dixits of Churchill have found 
their low and dirty level ; and it would be well for the societies 
of the Inns of Court if they never had admitted among them 
men whose pursuits had been more dishonourable than those 
who have followed the profession of an actor. C. Dibdin. 

On the first night of any of his plays, if the slightest symptoms 
of disapprobation were shown by the audience, Murphy always 
left the house, and took a walk in Covent Garden Market ; 
then, having composed himself, he would return to the theatre. 
One thing ought to be remembered to Murphy's honour : an 
actress with whom he had lived, bequeathed to him all her 
property ; but he gave up every farthing of it to her relations. 
Rogers. 

A kind of " Bohemian," he was to be a player, a barrister, 
and a hack writer for the booksellers ; to live freely, and 
not very decorously, to jumble together circuit and the green- 
room, the bar and the stage ; to write " opinions " and 
successful plays. Almost within a few weeks he had appeared 
on the stage at Drury Lane, and on the no less dramatic 
boards of Westminster Hall. Yet, with this curious unsteadi- 
ness, he ended with respectability, and was offered high legal 
office three times. P. Fitzgerald. 






155 

William Smith. 

1730. 
Smith the genteel, the airy, and the smart. Churchill. 

All a.^ree that he was one of the most elegant men of the 
day. His acquirements were of no ordinary kind. He had 
ed a first-rate education, ami had completed his studies 
with much credit to himself at Camhridi <-. He was admitted 
into the highest circles of society, and \\as particularly re- 
markable for the elegance of his manners. He had many of 
those qualifications which enabled him to perform respectably 
in tragedy ; but he never obtained anything like excellence in 
that walk. In comedy, however, as the fine gentleman, his 
powers were universally acknowledged. The graces of his 
person, the elegance of his manners, and the dignity of his de- 
portment, admirably qualified him for that character. The 
style of the man moving in good society was essentially 
different, it must be remembered, from what it is now. The 
dress, the distinctions, the acquirements necessary, were so 
unlike anything which we now see, that we can form but an 
indifferent idea of the qualifications demanded for the accom- 
plished actor in this walk. There was more stage effect then 
even in private life ; the powdered hair, the folding hat, the 
sword, the short breeches with buckles, the embroidered coat, 
the ruffles, and all the accessories of dress, served to distinguish 
the class ; dancing a minuet, fencing, and fashionable raillery 
were among the indispensable accomplishments. To portray 
upon the stage a man of the true school of gentility required 
pretensions of no ordinary kind, and Smith possessed these in 
a singular degree, giving to Charles Surface all that finish for 
which he was remarkable. He had acquired the distinction of 
" Gentleman Smith " from his unvarying exhibition of an air of 
distinction without any false assumption. He had made it an 
indispensable article of agreement with managers that his face 
was never to be blackened, and that he was never to be lowered 
through a stage-door. He retired from the stage in 1787. 
" Life of Sheridan" Bohrfs Edition. 

Smith has been immortalized by Churchill as a gentlemanly 
actor ; but his forte was comedy. His person was agreeable, 
his countenance engaging, and his voice smooth and powerful 
though monotonous. A potent physical personage he must 



1^6 William Smith. 

have been, who could swim a league at sea, drink his bottle of ' 
port, and after fatigue and conviviality, commit his part dis- 
tinctly to memory. He was respectable in Richard III., and a 
tolerable Hotspur. Thomas Campbell. 

Smith had been educated at college and lived in the best 
society ; his correspondence with his great master (Garrick) is fre- 
quently graced by quotations from Ovid and Virgil ; and Catullus 
and Mrs. Hartley concur in reminding the manager of his own 
attachment to Mrs. Woffmgton. He would often beg from Mr. 
Garrick an hour's attention to his rehearsals; but I never 
could see that he had profited from his teacher, for his tragedy 
was uniformly hard and unvaried, whereas the very vital prin- 
ciple of Roscius was point, and he could no more endure a 
character set to one tune, than he could bear the slightest inat- 
tention to the stage-business. Smith's heroes in tragedy all more 
or less reminded you of Bajazet it was the tyrant's vein that 
he breathed. He looked upon tragedy as something abstract, 
to which all character was to bend ; so that he had but one 
manner for Richard and Hamlet. But his nerve and gentle- 
manly bearing carried him through a world of emotion without 
exciting a tear, and you were some way satisfied, though not 
much " moved." In comedy, his manliness was the chief 
feature, yet it was combined with pleasantry so perfectly well- 
bred, that I am unable to name any other actors who have 
approached him. Boaden. 

Smith, better known as " Gentleman Smith," married the 
sister of Lord Sandwich ; for some time the union was con- 
cealed, but an apt quotation of Charles Bannister elicited 
the truth. Smith, who was very reserved, evaded the banter of 
Foote upon the subject, when Charles exclaimed : 

" Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?" 

Smith was proof against curiosity, but not against wit, and 
acknowledged his marriage, " Well," said Bannister, " I am 
rejoiced that you've got a Sandwich from the family, but if ever 
you get a dinner from them, d me ! " Charles proved himse 
a prophet as well as a punster. Records of a Stage Veteran. 

He took the eye with a certain gaiety of person. He broug! 
with him no sombre recollections of tragedy. He had to ex- 
piate the fault of having pleased beforehand in iofty declama* 
tion. He had no sins of Richard or of Hamlet to atone for.*. 
Charles Lamb. 



r er 
elf 

ht 



Thomas King. 157 

Smith's industry being alive to his duty, he sought eveiy pos- 
sible opportunity of improving by a correct study of the method 

and manner of Garrick The public in consequence, 

in their commendation of perfectness, industry, attention, and 
gentlemanly demeanour, strongly applauded those particular 
merits in this actor which he possessed, and passed by trifling 
impi-dimcnts, which could not be called faults, with the 
candour due to warm devotion and active exertion. C. 
Dibdin. 

Mr. Smith, from his first attempt in Theodosius in 1753 to 
the present time, has by uniform good conduct supported him- 
self in the general esteem of the people, whose favourite he 
certainly is, and deserves to be ; for no man is more indefatigable 
in the exertion of his talents in a great variety of characters 
in tragedy and comedy. To examine his merit minutely would 
be uncandid ; especially when in the aggregate it is very con- 
siderable. I believe the best judges prefer his action in the sock 
to that of the buskin. His lachimo, in " Cymbeline," is easy, 
spirited, and artful ; and he almost in Kilely makes us forget the 
loss of Garrick. He is distinguished among the players by the 
name of " Gentleman Smith." 71 Davies. 



Thomas King. 
1730-1805. 

No one could deliver such dialogue as is found in Lord 
Qglcby and in Sir Peter Teazle with greater point than Mr, 
King. He excelled in a quiet sententious mode of expressing 
feeling and sentiment. There was an epigrammatic style in 
everything he uttered ; for although he could, when occasion 
required, give rapid utterance to his thoughts, he seemed gene- 
rally to dwell upon his words, and then make all the happy 
points tersely and cleverly. His voice was musical, his action 
slow, his countenance expressive of benignity, and yet of firm- 
ness. He had the reputation of speaking prologues and 
epilogues better than any actor of the day, rendering them, 
when written with spirit, little dramas perfect in themselves. 
His delivery in the couplet was in the true spirit of poetry ; 
and, without any mixture of buffoonery or mimicry, he painted 
the ludicrous and the gay with great felicity and tact Life 
of Sheridan 



158 Thomas King. 

Behind came King. Bred up in modest lore, 

Bashful and young he sought Hibernia's shore ; 

Hibernia famed, 'bove every other grace, 

For matchless intrepidity of face. 

From her his features caught the gen'rous flame, 

And bid defiance to all sense of shame. 

Tutor'd by her all rivals to surpass, 

'Mongst Drury's sons he comes, and shines in brass. 

Churchill 

His acting left a taste on the palate sharp and sweet like a 
quince ; with an old, hard, rough, withered face, like a John- 
apple, puckered up into a thousand wrinkles ; with shrewd hints 
and tart replies. Lamb. 

King had been a town actor for the amazing period of fifty- 
four years. His first appearance was in Alworth, in the "New 
Way to Pay Old Debts," on the iQth October, 1748. King 
had more of Garrick's friendship than any other actor ever 
enjoyed ; he was respectful, but never servile, before his great 
master, who sent him his dress foil when he quitted the stage, as 
the legacy of professional death. I saw him from the pit, and he 
played the character (of Sir Peter Teazle) extremely well, and in 
the language was quite perfect. King had a habit of repeating 
without voice everything addressed to him by another actor, so 
that he never remitted his attention to the business for a 
moment. His lips were always employed, and he was pro- 
bably master of the language of every scene he was engaged in. 
His old men have been supplied with kindred and sometimes 
equal power ; but his saucy valets have never been approached. 
Boaden. 

It is difficult to liken King to any English actor. Those 
who performed characters in his style at the time of Gibber 
seem to have been followed by Yates, who, though he was, as 
I have with pleasure observed, an admirable actor, had a 
manner perfectly distinct. King is a performer who has thrown 
novelty into old characters, consequence into new, and nature 
into all. Indeed, his leading feature is integrity ; which quality 
having been invariably his guide during his whole public and 
private conduct, he has most respectably endeared himself 
to the world in general by a display of truth and nature from 
the stage, and to a large circle of admiring friends, by an 
exercise of benevolence, good humour, and every other social 
virtue, C. Dibdin. 



I 



<59 

Mrs. Abington. 
1731-1815. 

She is below the thought of any honest man or woman ; she 
is as silly as she is false and treacherous. 1 Garrick. 

No one could deliver a smart speech with such severity; 
yet she could not touch the highest point of airy comedy. She 
had been pitched out of the dregs of the town, and lived for 
years as a tavern girl. It was infinitely to the credit of her 
tact and esprit that she should have raised herself, and, like 
\\ olfmgton, have learned refinement and accomplishments. 
She could tell of the strange society in Dublin, where ladies of 
first fashion were at her feet, imploring hints about their dress. 
The " Abington cap " was in all the milliners' shops. Her 
manner was bewitching. No one could play a fan so delight- 
fully ; and it was noticed that she had some odd little tricks in 
her acting, such as turning her wrist, and "seeming to stick a 
pin at the side of her waist." 3 P. Fitzgerald. 

Mrs. Abington (the original performer of Lady Teazle), in the 
) latter portion of her dramatic life, was tempted to throw aside 
feminine grace and delicacy so far as to exhibit herself as 
Scrub, in the " Beaux' Stratagem," for her (pecuniary) benefit 
a character which, it may be said, she acted but too well. Gro- 
tesque portraits of her as this man-of-all-work are extant, and 
which might pass for tolerable likenesses of our inimitable 
Listen in the same character." 8 Mrs. Charles Mathews. 



1 Garrick hated her. He never speaks of her without calling her thai 
most ivortliless creature, or that worst of bad women, ED. 

2 Dr. Johnson was solicited by Mrs. Abington to attend her benefit. 
He went. Uoswell's inquisitiveness broke out the word " good nature" 
might have kept him quiet. " Why, sir, did you go to Mrs. Abington's 
benefit? Did you see?" "No, sir." "Did you hear?" "No, sir." 
" Why then, sir, did you go?" "Because, sir, she is a favourite with the 
public ; and when the public cares a thousandth part for you that it does 
for her, I will go to your benefit, too." 

8 Peter Pindar thus alludes to this performance : 

" The courtly Abington's untoward star 
Wanted her reputation much to mar, 
And sink the lady to the washing-tub 
So whisper'd, ' Mistress Abington, play SCRUB.' 
To folly full as great some imp may lug her, 
And bid her slink in FITCH and ABEL DRUGGER." 



160 Mrs. A b ing ton. 

Her person is formed with great elegance, her address is 
graceful, her looks animated and expressive. To the goodness 
of her understanding, and the superiority of her taste, she is 
indebted principally for her power of pleasing ; the tones of 
her voice are not naturally charming to the ear, but her incom- 
parable skill in modulation renders them perfectly agreeable. 
Her articulation is so exact that every syllable she utters is 
conveyed distinctly and even harmoniously. T. Davies. 

She, I think, took more entire possession of the stage than 
any actress I have seen. There was, however, no assumption 
in her dignity. She was a lawful and grateful sovereign, who 
exerted her full power, and enjoyed her established preroga- 
tives. The ladies of her day wore the hoop and its concomitant 
train. The Spectator's exercise of the fan was really no play of 
fancy. Shall I say that I have never seen it in a hand so dex- 
terous as that of Mrs. Abington ? She was a woman of great 
application : to speak as she did required more thought than 
usually attends female study. Far the greater part of her sex 
rely upon an intuition which seldom misleads them : such dis- 
cernment as it gives becomes habitual, and is commonly 
sufficient, or sufficient for common purposes. But common- 
place was not the station of Abington. She was always beyond 
the surface : untwisted all the chains which bind ideas to- 
gether, and seized upon the exact cadence and emphasis by 
which the point of the dialogue is enforced. Her voice was 
of a high pitch, and not very powerful. Her management of 
it alone made it an organ. Yet this was so perfect that we 
sometimes converted the mere effect into a cause, and sup- 
posed it was the sharpness of the tone that gave the sting 

Her deportment is not so easily described : more womanly 
than Farren ; fuller, yet not heavy, like Younge, 1 and far be- 
yond even the conception of modern fine ladies, Mrs. Abington 
remains in memory as a thing for chance to restore to us rather 
than design, and revive our polite comedy at the same time. 
Boaden. 

Mrs. Abington can never go beyond Lady Teazle, which is a 
second-rate character. Walpole. 

With Mrs. Abington came a species of excellence which the 
stage seems never before to have boasted in the same perfec- 
tion. The higher parts in comedy had been performed chastely 



1 Afterwards Mrs. Pope. En. 






Robert Baddeley. \ 6 1 

and truly ; perhaps in these particulars more so than by this 
actress. '1 here was a peculiar goodness gleamed across the 
levity of Mrs. Pritchard, and by what we can learn of Mrs. 
Bracegirdle, who seems to have possessed the same captivating 
sort of manner which distinguished Mrs. Abington, she was 
in these characters natural and winning. But it remained for 
her successor to add a degree of" grace, fashion, and accom- 
plishment to sprightliness, which was no sooner seen than it 

was imitated in the politest circles In addition to the grace, 

the ease, and the elegance with which Mrs. Abington personated 
characters in high life, and aped politeness in chambermaids, 
her taste for dress was novel and interesting. She was con- 
sulu-d by ladies of the first distinction, not from caprice, as we 
have frequently seen in other instances, but from a decided 
conviction of her judgment in blending what was beautiful 
with what was becoming. Indeed, dress took a sort of toil 
from her fancy, and ladies both on the stage and off piqued 
themselves with decorating their persons with decency and 
decorum. Charles Dibdin. 

Robert Baddeley. 
1732-1794. 

Mr. Baddeley, who died in 1794, is not less known for his 
benevolence than for his comic talents. By his will he left his 
cottage at Hampton to the Theatrical Fund in trust that they 
should elect four fund pensioners who might not object to live 
sociably under the same roof; and in order that the decayed 
actors who should be chosen by the committee as tenants of 
the house might not appear in the eyes of the neighbourhood 
like dependents on charity, he left a sum to be distributed by 
those tenants to the needy around them. He also left money 
for erecting a small summer-house for them, which was to be 
situated so as to command a view of the Temple of Shak- 
speare erected by Mr. Garrick. The summer-house was to be 
formed of part of the wood that belonged to Old Drury Lane 
Theatre, the scene of Garrick's fame and excellence ; and the 
wood was bought on purpose for this object. He also be- 
queathed the interest of ioo/. Three per Cents, to be annually 
expended in a Twelfth-cake, with wine and punch, to be distri- 
buted in the green-room on Twelfth-night, to make the future 

M 



1 6 2 Charles Holland. 

sons and daughters of Thespis remember an old friend ind 
member of the profession. The Percy Anecdotes. 

The accommodating civility of Baddeley, than whom nobody 
ever performed that particular foreigner, a Swiss, so well, as 
Garrick perfectly well knew. C. Dibdin. 

Baddeley, previous to his becoming a player, was a cook. 
The first character he happened to appear in, it was necessary 
he should wear a sword. Foote, seeing him thus equipped, 
immediately exclaimed, " Ha, Baddeley, I am heartily glad to 
see you in the way of complete transmigration you have turned 
your spit into a sword already !" R. Wewitzer. 

Charles Holland. 

1733-1769- 

Holland, to speak in familiar phrase, was what we call a 
good-looking man ; he had an affectation of carrying his head 
either stiffly erect, or leaning towards one shoulder, which gave 
an awkwardness to his person, which was not otherwise ungen- 

teel His ear was perfectly good, and he had a moderate 

share of sensibility. By a constant attention to the voice, 'man- 
ner, and action of Mr. Garrick, he did not displease when he re- 
presented some of his most favourite characters : particularly 
Hamlet, Chamont, Hastings, and Tancred. In the last he mani- 
fested an uncommon degree of spirit. T. Davies. 

Next Holland came. With truly tragic stalk 
He creeps he flies. A hero should not walk. 
As if with Heaven he warred, his eager eyes 
Planted their batteries against the skies ; 
Attitude, action, air, pause, start, sigh, groan, 
He borrow'd, and made use of as his own. 
By fortune thrown on any other stage, 
He might, perhaps, have pleas'd an easy age. 
But now appears a copy, and no more, 
Of something better we have seen before. 
The actor who would build a solid fame 
Must imitation's servile arts disclaim ; 
Act from himself, on his own bottom stand ; 
I hate e'en Garrick thus at second hand 



Charles Holland. 163 

So just thy action with thy part agrees, 

Each feature does the office of a tongue ; 
Such is thy native elegance and ease, 

By thee the harsh line smoothly glides along. 
At thy feign'd woe we're really distress'd, 

At thy feign'd tears we let the real fall ; 
By every judge of nature 'tis confess'd, 

No single part is thine thou'rt all in all. 

Chatter ton. ^ 

Holland was extremely different from Po.vjll, both as an 
actor and a man. Though his natural talents were not so 
strong, yet he kept as respectable a situation, and through the 
propriety of his conduct, his company was coveted by the wise 
and the celebrated, while Powell's weakness led him into the 
society of the vain and the frivolous. Holland had not, nor 
had Powell received a very liberal education ; but his intellects 
were of that strong, clear, and decided kind, they performed 
for him the task of a tutor so well, that his decisions upon all 
occasions were founded in sound judgment and critical expe- 
rience. He was free, good-natured, cheerful, and generous; 



1 Chatterton was born at Bristol in 1752. At the first school he was 
sent to he was listless and morose. His master thought him so unpromis- 
ing a boy that he sent him back to his mother before his ignorance, which 
even the cane failed to enlighten, should injure the pedagogue's reputation 
as a teacher. At fifteen he was apprenticed to one Lambert, an attorney, 
where he worked for twelve hours a day, dined with the servants, and 
slept with the foot-boy. In 1769 he wrote Horace Walpole a letter, in 
which he offered to furnish him with an account of some great painters and 
engravers who had flourished in Bristol. In this letter were enclosed 
some stanzas on the death of Richard I., as a specimen of some poems 
which lie had found in that city. Walpole submitted the verses to Gray, 
who pronounced them forgeries, and they were returned. Chatterton was 
not disheartened. The spacious arena of London was before him, and into 
that amphitheatre he resolved to descend, and to contest for fame. In 
April, 1770, he bade farewell to his mother, and started for the capital. 
Before long he writes that his prospects are glorious. He composes songs, 
essays, poetiy, political pamphlets, rather scandalous addresses and squibs. 
He had made up his mind to become as a writer more formidable than 
Junius, and an instrument more obnoxious to power than Wilkes. Beck- 
ford, Lord Mayor, patronized him, and his death seems to have dealt 
Chatterton his first formidable blow. Disappointments thronged ; he 
retired to meaner apartments, and fell into great want. He could not 
return home ; his pride would not suffer him to face his sister and mother. 
Broken-hearted, famished, mad, this great genius committed suicide, 1770, 
aged eighteen. ED. 

M 2 



164 Mrs. Jefferson. 

nor had he an unkind wish to any human creature. He in- 
dulged himself as much as any young man reasonably ough'-t to 
do ; yet with his purse and his heart ever open, though not 
sprung from an opulent origin, which circumstance he had too 
much sense to conceal, at the age, I believe, of thirty-three, he 
left his family 6ooo/. 1: C. Dibdin. 

" Holland," said old Charles Macklin, " I shall live longer 
than Garrick, and if he will deposit 5oo/. in the hands of a 
banker, I will deposit the same sum, and the longest liver shall 
be entitled to the iooo/. You may tell him so from me." " No/' 
replied Holland, " I will not tell him so ; but I will take the 
wager myself." " Not so," rejoined Shylock, " not so Sir, I 
will have the benefit of his fears" R. Wcwitzer. 

Mrs. Jefferson. 



Britannia* was represented by Mrs. Jefferson, the most 
complete figure in beauty of countenance and symmetry of 
form I ever beheld. This good woman (for she was as vir- 
tuous as fair) was so unaffected and simple in her behaviour, that 
she knew not her power of charming. Her beautiful figure and 
majestic step in the character of Anna Biillen, drew the 
admiration of all who saw her. She was very tall ; and, had 
she been happy in abilities to act characters of consequence, 
she would have been an excellent partner in tragedy for Mr. 
Barry. In the vicissitudes of itinerant acting, she had often 
been reduced, from the small number of players in the 
company she belonged to, to disguise her lovely form, and 
to assume parts very unsuitable to so delicate a creature. 
When she was asked what characters she excelled in most, she 



1 Holland and Powell were bosom friends. When Powell died, Holland 
had a presentiment he should soon follow him. Dibdin says that the last 
time he ever performed he was in high spirits, full of anecdote, all of which 
contained some reference to Powell. He said that the first time he ever 
saw Powell was at a spouting club, where they performed Posthumus and 
lachimo together. These characters were also the first and the last they 
personated together on the stage. " What makes this matter singular 
almost beyond belief," says Dibdin, "was that he was then dressed foi 
lachimo, and he died a few days after." 

2 In Mallet's masque of that name, produced in 1755. ED. 






George A nn Bellamy. 165 

innocently replied, " Old nun, in comedy :" meaning such parts 
as Fondlcwifc in the " Old Bar.helor," and Sir Jealous Traffic in 
"The Busybody." She died suddenly at Plymouth as she 
was looking at a game that was practising for the night's 
representation. In the midst of a hearty laugh, she was seized 
with a sudden pain, and expired in the arms of Mr. Moody, 
who happened to stand by, and saved her from falling to the 
ground. T. Davics. 

George Ann Bellamy. 



Bellamy leaves nothing to be desired. Dr. Johnson. 

The charming George Ann Bellamy had procured from Paris 
two gorgeous dresses wherein to enact Statira in the " Rival 
Queens." JRoxana was played by Peg Woffington ; and she 
was so overcome by malice, hatred, and all uncharitableness, 
when she saw herself eclipsed by the dazzling glories of the 
resplendent Bellamy, that Peg at length resolved to drive her 
oft" the stage, and with upheld dagger had well nigh stabbed 
her at the side-scenes. Alexander and a posse of chiefs with 
hard names were at hand, but the less brilliantly clad Roxana 
rolled Statira and her spangled sack in the dust, pommelling 
her the while with the handle of her dagger, and screaming 
aloud : 

" Nor he, nor heaven shall shield thee from my justice ; 
Die, sorceress, die ! and all my wrongs die with thee. " 2 

Dr. Doran. 

Mr. Quin, the comedian, in whose dramatic corps the 






1 Chetwood dates her birth 1727; but as the biographical dictionaries 
I have consulted agree in fixing it at 1733, I have adopted that year. ED. 

a This story is told by Campbell, in his " Life of Mrs. Siddons," of Mrs. 
Boutwell. " She was," he says, "the original Statira of Lee's 'Alexander,' 
and acted the ' Rival Queens' successively with Mrs. Marshall and Mrs. 
Barry. Once when playing with the latter of the ladies, she was in 
danger of dying on the stage in earnest. Before the curtain drew up the 
two Queens, Statira (Boutwell) and Roxana (Barry) had a real rivalship 
about a lace veil, which was at last awarded to the former by the property- 
man. This decision so enraged Roxana that she acted her part rather too 
naturally, and in stabbing Statira sent her dagger, though it was a blunted 
one, through Mrs. Boutwell's stays, about a quarter of an inch into the 
flesh. " It is in this fashion that history is written. ED. 



1 66 George Ann Bellamy. 

celebrated Mrs. Bellamy was then performing, once after the 
rehearsal desired to speak with her in his dressing-room. As 
he had always carefully avoided seeing her alone, she was not 
a little surprised at so unexpected an invitation. Her appre- 
hensions made her fear that she, by some means or other, had 
offended the worthy man ; but her fears were not of long 
duration, for as soon as she entered his room, he took her by 
the hand, and with a smile of great benignity, thus addressed 
her : " My dear girl, you are vastly followed, I hear. Do not 
let the love of finery, or any other inducement, prevail on you 
to commit an indiscretion. Men, in general, are rascals. You 
are young and engaging, and therefore ought to be doubly 
cautious. If you want anything in my power, which money can 
purchase, come to me and say, ' James Quin, give me such a 
thing,' and my purse shall always be at your service." "The 
tear of gratitude," says Mrs. B., in her " Memoirs," " stood 
in my eye at this noble instance of generosity ; and his own 
glistened with that of humanity and self-approbation." Percy 
Anecdotes. 

Then comes Bellamy, so " very beautiful," as she seemed to 
young O'Keefe, " with her blue eyes, and very fair." " I often 
saw her splendid state sedan-chair, with superb silver-lace 
liveries, waiting for her at the door of Liffey Street Catholic 
Chapel." Life of Garrick. 

I dwell for a moment on a last appearance which I witnessed 
namely, that of Mrs. Bellamy, who took her leave of the stage 
May 24th, 1785. On this occasion Mrs. Yates, who had 
retired from the profession, performed the part of the Duchess 
of Braganza, and Miss Farren, the present Countess of Derby, 
spoke an address, which concluded with the following couplet : 

" But see, oppress'd with gratitude and tears, 
To pay her duteous tribute she appears." 

The curtain then ascended, and Mrs. Bellamy being discovered, 
the whole house immediately arose to . mark their favourable 
inclinations towards her, and from anxiety to obtain a view of 
this once celebrated actress, and, in consequence of the publi- 
cation of her life, then celebrated authoress. She was seated 
in an armchair, from which she in vain attempted to rise, 
so completely was she subdued by her feelings. She, however, 
succeeded in muttering a few words, expressive of her gratitude, 
and then sinking into her seat, the curtain dropped before her. 






Mrs. Crawford. 167 

.... Mrs. Bellamy was not only a beautiful woman, but a most 
accomplished actress. She was the successful rival of Mrs. 
Nossiter, during the tedious " Romeo and Juliet " contest be- 
tween Garrick and Barry. She also established Dodsley's play 
of " Cleone," refused by Garrick ; . . . . and in the opinion of 
Quin, Garrick, and other critical contemporaries, she surpassed 
t\cii Mrs. Woffmgton in conversational powers. Frederick 

'/(IS. 

Mrs. Bellamy played Alicia in "Jane Shore," in presence 
oi" the king of Denmark (who was then on a visit to George 
III.), who, wearied with very fast living, was in a sound sleep 
(hiring one of her finest scenes. The angry lady had to 
exclaim, " Oh, thou false lord !" and she drew near to the 
slumbering monarch, and shouted it close to his ears with such 
astounding effect that he started up, rubbed his eyes, became 
conscious of what was going on, and how it had come about, 
and remarked that he would not have such a woman for his 
wife though she had no end of kingdoms for a dowry. 
Corn/till Magazine, 1863. 

We can say of Mrs. Bellamy that she was natural, easy, 
chaste, and impressive; that as far as person, features, voice, 
and conception went, none of which were by any means 
of an inferior description, she highly pleased and never offended ; 
but these commendations, respectable as they rank her, would 
be cold and negative applied to Mrs. Gibber or Mrs. Pritchard, 
who commanded attention, who seized the passions, and 
modelled them at their will. But with all this deduction, the 
public would be a good deal astonished to see such an actress 
as Mrs. Bellamy at this moment, were Mrs. Siddons out of the 
question. C. Dibdin. 

She has a most admirable improving genius : therefore it will 
be no wonder if she soon reaches the top of perfection. She 
has a liberal, open heart, to feel and ease the distresses of the 
wretched. Chetwood's " History of the Stage" 1749. 

Mrs. Crawford. 1 
1734-1801. 

Though once most elegant in her deportment, she be- 
came at last rough and coarse ; and her person had the ap- 

1 This actress was three times married. Her first hushand was a Mr. 



1 68 Mrs. Crawford. 

pearance rather of an old man than one of her own sex./". 
Taylor. 

Though even in her best days it appears that she was toe 
vehement in action, and that she neglected to insinuate herself 
into admiration from her ambition to create surprise, yet still 
it is allowed that she could produce astonishment deep and 
thrilling. The effect of her question, as Lady Randolph in 
u Douglas," to the peasant respecting the child, " Was he alive?" 
was perhaps never surpassed on the stage. Bannister told me 
that it made rows of spectators start from their seats. 
Campbell. 1 

She looked still a fine woman, though time, while it had 
taken something from the elegance of her figure, had also 
begun to leave its impression on her features. Her voice was 
somewhat harsh, and what might be termed broken. In level 
speaking it resembled the tone of passion in other speakers. It 
was at no time agreeable to the ear ; but when thrown out by 
the vehemence of her feeling, it had a transpiercing effect that 
seemed absolutely to wither up the hearer it was a flaming 
arrow it was the lightning of passion. Such was the effect of 
her almost shriek to Old Norval, " Was he alive T' It was an 
electric shock that drove the blood back from the surface sud- 
denly to the heart, and made you cold and shuddering with 
terror in the midst of a crowded theatre. Boadcn's "Life of 
Kemble." 

Mrs. Crawford I remember well : "a fine woman, a sweet 
woman," doubtless she had been nay, still was when I first 
beheld her ; but a good actress she never could have been. 
Records of a Stage Veteran. 

Mrs. Crawford acted from 1759 to 1797. She was the 
daughter of an apothecary at Bath, and was of an amorous 
temperament. Somebody or other jilted her, it is said, in her 
seventeenth year, and the misfortune so deeply affected he . 
that, in the vain attempt to reconcile herself to it by going to 
the theatre, she fell in love with an actor of the name cf 



Dancer, her second the well-known actor, Spranger Barry, the third a 
Mr. Crawford, who ill-treated her. She lies by the side of her second 
husband in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. ED. 

1 Boaden says, speaking of Mrs. Siddons, that "perhaps the most 
serious moment of her professional life was that in which she resolved to 
contest even that character (Lady Randolph} with her rival, Mrs. Cra 1 

fad." ED. 



- 



Tate Wilkinson. 169 

Onnrer. Him of course the poor forsaken girl, who appeared 
i:i a consumption, married in spite of her physician and all her 
high-born relations, who thought the connexion a disgrace to 
the pestle and mortar. Mrs. Dancer soon became the star of the 

I >u!>lin Theatre, and a widow. She lost but little time in giving 
her hand to the handsomest man on the stage, Spranger Barry, 
then called the Irish Roscius and the silver-tongued. With 
him she led a life of happiness and fame, and for many years, 
under (larrick's management, was the delight of Drury Lane. 
In 1777 Barry died, and she married a third husband, who was 
a brute, as third husbands generally are, and broke her heart. 
She was then no longer young though not old and domestic 
distress cast such a damp over her genius, that frequently she 
could only be said to v/alk through her parts. On the appear- 
ance of Mrs. Siddons she came from Dublin to act at Covent 
(iarden ; but a faded beauty, some years on the wrong side of 
forty, " paled her ineffectual fires" before the blaze of those re- 
splendent charms, and her genius showed like a dying lamp in 
the meridian sun. Blackwoocfs Magazine, 1834. 

Mrs. Barry (Mrs. Crawford) had more of Garrick's merit in 
tragedy, and was equal to quickness, passion, rage, and an ex- 
position of all the terrible and turbulent passions. Common grief 
was too tame for her expression. She knew not how to insi- 
nuate herself into the heart her mode was to seize it. Admi- 
ration was not enough : she must beget astonishment. This 
difficult effect, it must be confessed, her acting very often pro- 
duced ; but it seldom happens that such bold and forcible 
strokes of art are free from inequality. C. Dibdin. 

Tate Wilkinson. 

173.6-1803. 

Mr. Wilkinson was indeed a polished gentleman in private 
life ; and even as a manager his liberality was conspicuous. In 
the course of the year certain removes occurred, such as a nine-mile 
journey from Pomfret to Wakefield, which many of the actors 
would walk, if the weather permitted, in summer. Tate, on such 
occasions, preceded them in his carriage ; and on their arrival 
at a certain point of the road he would invite them to an ex- 
cellent dinner, which he had ordered ready for their refresh- 
ment ; and towards the whole of the performers, from the 



170 Tate Wilkinson. 

highest to the lowest, on these occasions, in manner and con- 
duct he would be a Chesterfield in all he said and did. Life, 
of Mathews. 

Tate had been a little too merry in his youth, and was very 
melancholy in old age. He had had a wandering mind, and a de- 
crepit body ; and being manager of a theatre, a husband, and 
a ratcatcher, he would speak in his wanderings "variety of 
wretchedness ;" he would interweave, for instance, all at once 
the subject of a new engagement at his theatre, the rats, a 
veal-pie, Garrick and Mrs. Siddons, and Mrs. Tate and the 
doctor. Leigh Hunt. 

One of the most extraordinary mimics that ever lived. 
T. Campbell. 

With not a single comic power endued, 
The first a mere mere mimic's mimic stood. 

Churchill. 

One morning a letter was brought in at Southampton Street, 
introducing a young man who wished to go on the stage. 
Garrick received him kindly, listened to his declamation, which 
was poor enough, and comforted the aspirant by telling him 
that his shyness was a very good sign of success. This young 
fellow had hung about the green-room in Covent Garden, and 
for all this shyness was a pert, forward, impudent gamin, 
whose precocious talents of mimicry had been overpraised by 
friends. He offered to "take off" some of the well-known 
actors, to show the manager his gifts. " Nay, now," said 
Garrick, in his peculiar mixture of hesitation and repetition, 
which made his " talk " a favourite subject of imitation. " Nay, 
now, sir, you must take care of this ; for I used to call myself 
the first at this business." But the young fellow knew the 
manager's weak place. He began, leading off with Foote. The 
likeness amused the manager immensely, and the performance 
was repeated. "Hey, now! now what all," went on Mr. 
Garrick. "How really this this is why, well, well, well, 
do call on me on Monday, and you may depend on my doing 
all I can for you." .... On the Monday the youth came again, 
and was welcomed warmly. He was told that inquiries had 
been made about his widowed mother, and that he was to be 
put on the books at thirty shillings a week a fortune indeed. 
The youth's name was Tate Wilkinson, who has left behind a 
very curious history of himself and other players, which is ~ 







Wilkinson. 1 7 1 

mass of truth, blunders, and falsehoods a mass, too, of mean- 
ness, vanity, and egotism. P. Fitzgerald. 

The disjointed state of Wilkinson's memory gave rise to a 
hundred anecdotes, which were rather what he might have said 
than what he actually did say. Stories of this sort are generally 
urran;.-,i-d iu :i manner too antithetical : this it was that deti 
from Mr. Mathews's admirable imitation of the veteran ma- 
nger. The following sentences, verbatim et literatim, were 
noted down as Tate uttered them : " But if he (alluding to 

Melvin) don't come to rehearsal, how can he rehearse? 

Nor was Hope's Warner what it might have been And a 

very dull spring meeting it will be No letters from London, 

and the farce is called at one, is it?. ... If ' Blacklock' runs 

second even, Mr. K will be a large winner So call 

Hope's scenes again." Imagine a pause between each para- 
graph, such as occurs in the speech of a stutterer, and you have 
an image of Tate. Well might Mathews say that he seemed 
to have cut his words separately out of a dictionary, thrown 
them loose into a sack, and shaken them forth again promiscu- 
ously. Records of a Veteran. 

Tate Wilkinson was a humorist by nature, and a great deal 
more of the humorist by art. Possessing some natural faculty 
for imitation, his manners were a perpetual burlesque ; yet with 
all this affected eccentricity, he had a perfect sense of his own 
interest, had a subtle knowledge of mankind, managed his 
theatre with considerable dexterity, and contrived to live hand- 
somely on the profits of a pursuit which has probably produced 
more broken fortunes than any employment on record. 
Blackw cod's Magazine, 1839. 

When Tate Wilkinson first appeared on the stage, he applied 
himself principally to mimicry, which he succeeded so well in 
as to meet with universal applause. Among the various cha- 
racters he took off was Luke Sparks the player, 1 who felt it so 
powerfully that he made a formal complaint to Mr. Garrick. 
Garrick, who himself smarted under the lash of the mimic, 
laughed it off, and said, " Come, come, Luke, you had better 
take no notice of it ; consider, if you are mimicked, it is in. good 
company" " True," said Luke, very gravely, " but I have 
known many a man ruined by keeping good company." 
Wetuitzer. 



1 Luke Sparks was a well-known actor, equally good in tragedy and 



172 

William Parsons. 



Parsons was born a comic actor : the tones of his voice, and 
the muscles of his face proclaim it ; his humour is genuine and 
pleasant ; nobody can forbear laughing either with him or at 
him, whenever he opens his mouth. T. Davies. 

He was an actor of great merit, but he never appeared 
to greater advantage than he did in the " Critic." He was the 
original Sir Fretful Plagiary, and from his delineation most of 
our modern actors have borrowed their idea. A compliment 
paid to his memory on the opening of the Haymarket Theatre ' 
in the summer (after his death) was caught at by the a.udience 
with loud expressions of their concurrence in the sentiment. A 
prelude was written by Colman, entitled " New Hay at the 
Old Market ;" the audience was supposed to be made acquainted 
with the wants of the concern, and a dialogue between Prompter 
and Carpenter occurs, during which the following expressions 
were used : 

" Carpenter : ' We want a new scaffold for the " Surrender of 
Calais." ' 

" Prompter : ' Ah, where shall we get such another hangman ? 
Poor fellow, poor Parsons ! the old cause of our mirth is now 
the cause of our melancholy ; he who so often made us forget 
our cares, may well claim a sigh to his memory.' 

" Carpenter : ' He was one of the comicalest fellows I 
ever see.' 

"Prompter: 'Ay, and one of the honestest, Master Car- 
penter. When an individual has combined private worth 
with public talent, he quits the bustling scene of life with 
twofold applause, and we doubly deplore his exit.' " 

The allusion here was to the play of the "Surrender of 
Calais," in which Parsons performed the chief workman at 
the gallows, erected for the patriots who were to be hung by 
the decree of King Edward. The scene was an imitation of 
the grave-diggers in "Hamlet." On an occasion when the 
King (George III.) had commanded the play, Parsons, instead 



comedy. Chetwood says, " He may be accounted a person in the highest 
second-class." He died in 1767. ED. 



William Parsons. J 73 

of .'Kiying the words set down for him, " So the king is coming ; 
an the king like not my scaffold, I am no true man," gave 
a new reading, which, as it was expressed with peculiar 
humour, and a saucy assumption of independence, excited great 
laughter, more especially from the monarch. Parsons exclaimed, 
"An the king were here, and did not admire my scaffold 
1 would say d n it, he has no taste !" Life of Sheridan. 

I can hardly now convince myself that his place has been 
supplied. He never could be tempted to quit the standard of 
his master Garrick, and he passed as an heir-loom into the 
possession of Sheridan. Let me bear witness to his rich and 
singular power of telling a story. One of his best has been 
versified by a very dear old friend, and called " Parsons, thfc 
Actor and the Lion," and it is done as well as a very humorous 
pen can do it ; but the face of the actor must be wanting ; the 
manner of him whose toe had touched a lion at the bed's foot ; 
the shaggy mane; the verification of the fact; the agony of 
suspense; the knocks that might wake the savage to their 
distraction ; all this should be seen and heard. Boaden. 

None who ever saw Parsons in " Volpone," in " The Con- 
federacy," and in " The Village Lawyer," can forget his effective 
mode of exclaiming, while representing the character of the 
avaricious Corbacdo : 

" Has he made his will ? 
What has he given me ?" 

Mosca. No, sir 

Corbac." Nothing ! ha ?" 

And again, as the amorous old Money Trap : 

"Eh ! how long will it be, Flippanta?" 

And lastly, as the roguish Sheepface, when consulting the 
lawyer Scout : 

" Let's try it t'other way." 

His rivals, Edwin and Quick, undoubtedly possessed one great 
advantage over him that of singing. Yet, in spite of this 
powerful aid to his competitors, Parsons, relying more on 
mental than on vocal talents, maintained his ground, and for 
year after year the original Sir Fretful Plagiary and Crabtrce 
contrived to make saccessful play against the original Lin^o 
and Peeping Tom, and what is still more to Parsons's credit, 
against the original Tony Lumpkin and Isaac. F. Reynolds. 
The discrimination of Parsons in " Parents and Guardians" 



1 74 William Powell. 

was his own, and he went over this walk in a manner perfectly 
original, which was the more admirable, coming as he did after 
Yates ; besides, he had treasured up a great fund of know- 
ledge, and was capable of speaking with taste and judgment to 
every question concerning the arts, a congenial feeling with 
those enlarged ideas which particularly belong to acting. 
C. Dibdin. 

William Powell. 
1736-1769. 

Few actors have for these twenty years displayed such talents 
for tragic passion as Powell. It is less to be admired that he did 
not succeed in some parts than that he should come off 
triumphantly in so many. Among his worst failings we may 
reckon an inclination sometimes to rant and bluster, and 
sometimes a propensity to whine and blubber. Thomas 
JDavies. 

I saw the great actor Powell make his first appearance on 
the stage; it was in Philaster at Drury Lane. He had 
been apprentice to Sir Robert Lanbrook in the City. He had, 
I thought, more power over the passions than any actor I ever 
beheld. King spoke a kind of prologue to introduce him 
to the audience. Powell died at Bristol, where they conferred 
upon him great funeral honours. -John O'Keefe. 

Mr. Powell, so eminent for his tragic powers, may be 
literally said to have felt the ruling passion strong in death. 
When he was on his death-bed, and Mrs. Powell had left the 
room, Mrs. Hannah More, who sat by his bedside, was alarmed 
by observing his cheek suddenly assume a lively colour. He at 
*he same time threw himself into the proper attitude, and 
exclaimed : 
i "Is that a dagger that I see before me?" 

A moment after this, as if sensible of his danger, he cried out. 
" O God !" and instantly expired. Percy Anecdotes. 

Powell's acting was strong nature, luxuriant as a wilderness. 
It had a thousand beauties and a thousand faults. He felt so 
forcibly that in any impassioned scene tears came faster than 
words, and frequently choked his utterance. If Garrick had 
not gone to Italy, but had stayed at home and honestly taught 
him, there is certainly no height of perfection in tragedy t 
which such abilities could not have reached ; but he hurrie 



! 



Mrs. Yates. 175 

OMT so many characters for the short time he was on the 
stage, that it was impossible, even had his understanding been 
as great as his conception, for him to have digested any of 
them into anything like form. C. Dibilin. 

Mrs. Yates. 
1737-1787. 

Her countenance, with the beauty of the antique statue, had 
also something of its monotony, and she was defective in 
parts of tenderness. But it is confessed, even by her censurers, 
that her fine person, haughty features, and powerful voice, 
carried her well through rage and disdain, and that her declama- 
tion was musical. Taylor himself told me that she was the 
most commanding personage he had ever looked upon before 
he saw Mrs. Siddons. She was a superb Medea; and Wilkinson 
compares her Margaret of Anjou with Mrs. Siddons's Zara. 
Davies says that she was an actress whose just elocution, warm 
passion, and majestic deportment excited the admiration even 
of foreigners, and fixed the affection and applause of her own 
countrymen. Thomas Campbell. 

What I seem best to remember her in is Violante, in " The 
Wonder ; " and though it is sixty years since I saw Garrick and 
her in that play, I remember a great deal of it, as if it had 
occurred yesterday. It is an admirable acting play, and the 
two principal performers seemed to leave nothing to be desired. 
What I recollect best of Mrs. Yates is the scene in which 
Garrick, having offended her by a jealousy, not altogether with- 
out an apparent cause, the lady, conscious- of her entire inno- 
cence, at length expresses a serious resentment. Felix had till 
then indulged his angry feelings ; but finding at last that he had 
gone too far, applies himself with all a lover's arts to soothe 
her. She turns her back to him, and draws away her chair ; he 
follows her, and draws his chair nearer ; she draws away further ; 
at length by his winning, entreating, and cajoling, she is 
gradually induced to melt, and finally makes it up with him. 
Her condescension in every stage, from its commencement to 
its conclusion, was admirable. Her dignity was great and lofty, 
and the effect highly enhanced by her beauty ; and when by 
degrees she laid aside her frown when her lips began to relax 
towards a smile, while one cloud vanished after another, the 



176 Mrs. Yates. 

spectator thought he had never seen anything so lovely and 
irresistible, and the effect was greatly owing to her queen-like 
majesty. The conclusion, in a graceful and wayward beauty, 
would have been comparatively nothing ; with Mrs. Yates's 
figure and demeanour, it laid the whole audience, as well as the 
lover, at her feet. William Godwin? 

Mrs. Yates was ever overstepping the modesty of nature to 
produce stage effect. A. M. Seward. 

Might figure give a title unto fame, 
What rival should with Yates dispute her claim? 
But justice may not partial trophies raise, 
Nor sink the actress in the woman's praise. 
Still, hand in hand her words and actions go, 
And the heart feels more than the features show. 
For, through the region of that beauteous face, 
We no variety of passions trace. 
Dead to the soft emotions of the heart, 
No kindred softness can those eyes impart. 
The brow still fix'd in sorrow's sullen frame, 
Void of distinction, -marks all parts the same. 

Churchill. 

Her great beauty, fine presence, and immature talent made a 
deep impression ; and later, wisely listening to careful instruc- 
tion, and furnished with opportunities by the illness of rivals, 
she took her place as one of the grand actresses of the century. 
P. Fitzgerald. 

Too much stumping about and too much flumping about. 
Mrs. dive. 

Mrs. Yates had but little expression to animate a form and 
countenance almost as perfect as the model which she per- 
petually brought to mind ; her voice too had a monotony in 
perfect consent with her person ; as the latter was eminently 
grand and beautiful, so the former was exquisitely harmonious. 
But passion was now the great desideratum, and of this soul of 
tragedy she had infinitely less than Miss Younge, then acting 



1 William Godwin, best remembered now by his novel of "Caleb Wil- 
liams," on which the younger dolman founded his bombastic melodrama, 
"The Iron Chest." He was born in 1756, and died in 1836. lie married 
the celebrated Mary Wollstonecraft. His daughter was Mrs. Shelley. 
IJazlitt, in the " Spirit of the Age," has ably discriminated his talcnts.- 
ED. 



Mrs. Yates. 177 

with her at the same theatre. She repeated the Grecian 
Jmn^itcr on the 28th of October (1782), as a sort of antici- 
pation of the character then to be immediately acted by Mrs. 
Siddons ; that performance havii.. lly appropriated the 

play to Drury Lane, Miss Younge and she acted on the 3ist 
Jlcnnione and Andromache in the " Distressed Mother," and 
then all their tragedy became strictly confined in the " Castle 
of Andalusia " for some time. Mrs. Yates next acted Lady 
Macbeth to the Macbeth of Henderson, and at that time passed 
for the greatest that had been seen since Mrs. Pritchard. In 
the sleeping scene, however, I am satisfied that Miss Younge had 
more speaking terrors, and in all but the commanding action 
with the daggers, had more nature and more effect than her 
beautiful rival. Boaden's " Life of Siddons" 

Mrs. Yates was a performer of extraordinary merit. If she 
had a fault it was an emulation of the best French actresses, 
which gave a declamatory air to her delivery, but in her it was 
less a fault than it could have been in any other actress, because 
her voice was so wonderfully well calculated for this part of 
acting, that what would have appeared monotonous in any 
other, was in her penetrating to admiration. In all the com- 
plaints of suffering innocence, she was pathetically affecting ; 
her melancholy and despondency excited generous pity, and 
her grief was repaid with the tear of commiseration. This how- 
ever was not the boundary to her acting. In scenes of ani- 
mated passion and haughty fierceness her manner was com- 
manding and her expression majestic. She had all the grand 
and noble requisites of tragedy in great perfection. If she 
personated pride, she maintained it even in disappointment : if 
greatness, she never lost sight of its dignity, however fallen. 
Her merits were in the nature of those of Barry. Her queens 
were full of elevation, and her lovers of strong sensibility ; but 
here we must stop. Grandeur and tenderness comprised the 
whole of her talents'; the intermediate passions had nothing to 
do with them. They entirely consisted of the power to awe 
her auditors into admiration or melt them into tears. C. 
Dibdin. 



William Bensley. 
1738-1817. 

Of all the actors who flourished in my time a melancholy 
phrase if taken aright, reader Bensley had most of the swell 
of soul, was greatest in the delivery of heroic conceptions, the 
emotions consequent upon the presentment of a great idea to 
the fancy. He had the true poetical enthusiasm the rarest 
faculty among players. None that I remember possessed even 
a portion of that fine madness which he threw out in Hotspur's 
famous rant about glory, or the transports of the Venetian 
incendiary at the vision of the fired city. His voice had the 
dissonance, and at times the inspiring effect of the trumpet. 
His gait was uncouth and stiff, but no way embarrassed by 
affectation ; and the thoroughbred gentleman was uppermost 
in every movement. He seized the moment of passion with 
greatest truth, like a faithful clock, never striking before the 
time, never anticipating or leading you to anticipate. He was 
totally destitute of trick and artifice. He seemed come upon 
the stage to do the poet's message simply, and he did it with 
as genuine fidelity as the nuncios in Homer deliver the errands 
of the gods. Charles Lamb? 

He had to play Henry VI. in "Richard the Third." 
After the monarch's death in the early part of the play, he had 
to appear for a moment or two as his own ghost, in the fifth 
act. The spirits were at that time exhibited en buste by a trap. 
Now our Henry was invited out to supper, and being anxious 
to get there early, and knowing that little more than his 
shoulders would be seen by the public, he retained his black 
velvet vest and bugles, but discarding the lower part of his 
stage costume, he drew on a jaunty pair of new, tight, nankeen 
pantaloons, to be as far dressed for his supper company as he 
could. When he stood on the trap, he cautioned the men who 
turned the crank not to raise him as high as usual, and of 
course they promised to obey. But a wicked low comedian 
was at hand, whose love of mischief prevailed over his judg- 
ment, and he suddenly applied himself with such goodwill to 

1 " Charles Lamb," says a writer, "awards to Bensley a meed of praise at 
which the few who remember that sensible but stiff performer are enforced 
to smile." Quarterly Review, 1854. 






William Bens ley. 170 

the winch, that he ran King Henry up right to a level with the 
stage ; and moreover, gave his majesty such a jerk that he was 
forced to step from the trap on to the boards to save himself 
from falling. The sight of the old Lancastrian monarch in a 
costume of two such different periods mediaeval above, all 
nankeen and novelty below was destructive of all decorum 
both before the stage and upon it. The audience emphatically 
" split their sides," and as for the tyrant in the tent, he sat bolt 
upright, and burst into such an insane roar that the real 
Richard could not have looked more frantically hysterical had 
the deceased Henry actually so visited him in the nankeen 
spirit. 1 Dr. JDoran, " Table Traits:' 

IVnsley delivered dialogue with a propriety of emphasis and 
a nicety of discrimination that evinced a sound and com- 
prehensive judgment ; but when we are told that his voice and 
manner were well-suited to Malvolio and to the Ghost in 
" Hamlet," we are naturally prepared for what is added by his 
most candid describers that he showed a mind labouring 
against natural defects. He had an ungainly solemnity of 
action, and a nasal pronunciation. A good judge of acting 
who remembers him, tells me, that in seeing him on the stage 
his mind alternated between admiration of Bensley's sagacity as 
an actor, and regret that one so unfitted by nature for acting 
should have chosen it for his profession. T. Campbell, " Life 
of Siddons." 

Bensley was a gentleman and a scholar. He used to glare 
upon Kemble sometimes in the green-room with a savage glee 
while repeating a caustic quotation from Horace. As a military 
man he knew the "right-hand file" of any description of 
troops. Boaden, " Life of Inchbald."* 

Bensley had been in the army, and when he thought proper 



1 This joke is told by Hook (see the "Life of Hook," by R. H. 
D. Barhara), as having been played off on Murray by Jack Johnstone. 
Page 312- 13. ED. 

a His first appearance was at Drury Lane in 1765, as Pierre, in "Venice 
Preserved." One day, travelling in a hack post-chaise, he came in violent 
collision with a lady on horseback, who was thrown. They took a fancy 
to each other, and married. He left the stage in 1796, and was appointed 
to the post of a barrack-master, for which he was probably fitted by having 
served as lieutenant in the Marines. He had the luck, some years before his 
death, to come into a large fortune, bequeathed to him by Sir William 
Bensley, a Baronet, and an East Indian Director. He is spoken of as "a 
perfect gentleman." ED. 

N 2 



180 William Bensley. 

to unbend from his dignified stateliness was prone to the re- 
lation of his moving accidents by flood and field. Whenever 
the name of any foreign station occurred in conversation, 

Bensley would exclaim, " I was there in such a year, and 

served under (such a General) as lieutenant, &c. &c.' n C. 
Bannister (against whose punning propensities Bensley waged 
war) had noted down all these assertions for many months, and 
on one particular evening, after a coolness for some days 
between the tragedian and himself, proposed his health in the 
following words : " Gentlemen, I rise to drink the health of 
one who has sought the bubble reputation even in the cannon's 
mouth ; who, quitting the field of fame, bespoke her trumpet 
to bray forth his eulogies in the path of the drama. The 
scenic powers of my friend Mr. Bensley you all know, you all 
appreciate" (loud plaudits, and Bensley, overcome by grati- 
tude, fervently squeezing Bannister's hand) ; " but, Gentlemen 
continued the relentless humorist, " it is as a defender of his 
country that I rise to drink his health ; he has fought, he has 
bled for Old England !" (tremendous applause, and Bensley 
bowing his acknowledgments.) " He was a Captain in the 

regiment at Calcutta in . He was at in . 

He led the forlorn hope at in 17 ." (Here B. enume- 
rated all the places Bensley had ever mentioned in his moments 
of exhilaration, to the tragedian's dismay.) " Gentlemen," 
concluded Charles, " my friend's age is but forty-six, he has 
been twenty years on the stage I find, therefore, by accurate 
calculation, that he must have carried a pair of colours when 
only eighteen months old an instance of precocity, power, and 
courage, unexampled in the history of the world." Poor 
Bensley took this expose so much to heart that he never after- 
wards appeared in the room. Records of a Stage Veteran^ 
1836. 

I never laughed with Bensley but once, and then he re- 
presented Malvolio, in which I thought him perfection. 
Bensley had been a soldier, yet his stage walk entirely re- 
minded you of the " one, two, three, hop !" of the dancing- 
master. This scientific progress of legs, in yellow stockings, 
most villainously cross-gartered, with a horrible laugh of ugly 



1 He was a great egotist. Speaking of one of his own performances 
said, "My acting in that play will never be forgotten in Liverpool " 
time runs into eternity." 



Charles Bannister. 1 8 j 

conceit to top the whole, rendered him Shakspeare's Malvolio 
at all points. Boaden? " Life of Jordan." 

Bensley, who always maintained an upper rank upon the 
stage, both in tragedy and comedy, was respectable in all the 
characters he undertook, in spite of a stalk and a stare a 
stiffness of manner and a nasal twang of utterance which 
prevented his being very popular in most of them ; but these 
drawbacks were advantages to him in representing the buckram 
nobility of Lord Mortimer in Miss Lee's play ; and for the 
same reason his personation of Malvolio, the starched and 
conceited steward in " Twelfth Night," was beyond all com- 
petition. George Colman, u Random Records" 

A country gentleman dropping asleep while Bensley was 
repeating a long speech in his usual croaking voice, suddenly 
started up, and cried out, " Hullo ! reach my blunderbuss this 
instant; I thought I had shot that croaking devil yesterday." 
R. Wewitzcr. 

Charles Bannister. 
17381804. 

Charles Bannister was a native of Gloucestershire. When 
about fourteen his father obtained a good appointment in the 
victualling office at Deptford, and thither young Charles also 
repaired. This was in the year 1752. Garrick, then the star 
of Drury, had left a memory of his greatness at the eastern end 
of the metropolis. The flame that had burst forth in Goodman's 
Fields reached across the river. The difficulty that distance 
created inflamed curiosity ; and the youths of that day, inter- 
dicted from late hours, were actually in a fever respecting the 
Roscius. Spouting clubs were as plentiful as blackberries ; and 
Charles, who had an excellent voice, was soon seen at divers 
musical and theatrical meetings. In 1755-6 behold him acting 
Richard, Romeo, c., &c., in a barn between Deptford and 
Greenwick. This came to the ears of his father, who took a 
very summary mode of stopping his performances, by locking 



1 Writing of Bensley's Old Norval Boaclen says : " Pathos rendered his 
voice ragged as well as repulsive ; and he never, as to his feet, either stood 
or walked with the character of age. His helpless action had a character ol 
restrained vigour ; he implored pity in the noisy shout of defiance. His 
understanding, however, was of a superior kind, and it rendered him always 
respectable, and sometimes nearl/ excellent." 



1 82 Charles Bannister. 

poor Charles up, and taking all his clothes away. This treat- 
ment could not endure for ever ; he got his clothes again, and 
again returned to Deptford and the drama ; and at last went to 
town, met an old theatrical agent at the Black Lion, in Clare 
Court, and obtained an engagement at the Norwich Theatre, 
"for all Mr. Garrick's business, at 15^. a week." All his 
anxiety now was to conceal his vocal powers, for he dreaded 
being asked to play operatic characters. Whilst at Norwich he 
made many applications to the great powers in the metropolis, 
but in vain ; and as ambition burned more dimly within him 
he wooed and wedded; and in 1758 his eldest son John 
Bannister was born. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bannister were 
each of them favourites in the Norwich circuit. In society he 
had unfolded his vocal and mimetic propensities. His powers 
as a punster had also developed themselves ; his company was 
courted, and his benefits were immense. And Charles Ban- 
nister's boon companion was an intimate friend of Sam Foote ; 
he named Bannister to the great man, who immediately sent 
him an offer of 3/. per week. It was in May, 1762, that 
Charles stood trembling beside John Palmer, the former dressed 
for Will, the latter for Scamper, in the " Orators : " two charac- 
ters less favourable to debutants can scarcely be conceived. 
They are two Oxford scholars, who have come up to hear 
Foote's lecture, and who amuse themselves, ere that begins, by 
remarking upon the audience, and especially upon a young 
lady (the love of one of them) who is in the gallery. All this 
requires the steadiness of an old actor, and that sort of stand- 
ing that enables an established favourite safely to take liberties 
with his auditors. Bannister's tremor was not at all reduced 
by seeing Garrick and O'Brien (Gentleman O'Brien) 1 together 
in the boxes. Neither of the new actors produced any extra- 
ordinary effect, but they satisfied Foote, who immediately wrote 
an additional scene, representing " The Robin Hood Society 



1 O'Brien, as an actor, is highly spoken of both by Davies and Dibdii 
" The ease, elegance, and grace in his deportment," says the latter, " wer 
peculiar, and his own ; and spite of his voice, which for light character 
was not by any means an impediment, in the representation of a gres 
variety of parts his acting was critically natural, his manner interestinglj 
impressive, and his deportment uncommonly attractive." He married int< 
Lord Inchiquin's family, and left the stage whilst still a young man. H< 
tvas the author of two performances adapted from the French of La Fc 
and Ledaine. ED. 



C/uirles Bannister. 183 

of Butcher Row." This was a meeting of tradesmen who 
devoted certain evenings to political and philosophical discus- 
sions, others to spouting and singing. Foote's ridicule upon them 
was very attractive. He supposed the subject of discussion to be. 
" The Introduction of Usquebaugh instead of Porter; the latter 
Fluid being beneath the Dignity of Philosophers :" in this he 
introduced his new actors in various characters, and made 
Charles give his musical imitations ; but here the latter shone 
more as a wit than a singer, for fright so completely took posses- 
sion of him that he could not make sure of a single note in his 
falsetto : this, as he was imitating Ten dual, was destruction. 
It is to be observed that these performances took place in the 
morning, and the habits of Charles did not make that a favour- 
able period for his displays. Foote remarked upon his failure. 
" I knew it would be so," said Charles ; " I am all right at night, 
but neither /nor my voice can get up in the morning." A joke 
excused anything with Foote ; he tried Charles again and again. 
Thus encouraged, he gave his powers fair play, and morning 
after morning the great singers and musicians of the day were 
observed to visit the Haymarket. Charles was now in the 
high road to fortune ; in those days of ridottos and masque- 
rades his services were continually required, nor was any 
musical or convivial assemblage complete in his absence. At 
dinners, public and private, amid the first circles, Charles 
Bannister was as necessary as the wine ; the custom was then 
not to hire a vocalist, as now, a custom revolting and deroga- 
tory, but a singer was invited as a guest by perhaps half-a- 
dozen or a dozen different persons at as many different times : 
these gentlemen then met together, and, making up a purse, 
enclosed it in a snuff-box or some such trifle, sending it to the 
vocalist, requesting his acceptance of it : this was courteous, 
and though only payment in another shape, spared the feelings 
it is now the custom to outrage. Bannister had thus the means 
of amassing a fortune, but he, like Macheath, " kept too much 
fine company." Suffering his partiality for Palmer (his boyhood's 
friend, who had acted in private with him, and who appeared 
in London in the same piece and on the same night) to out- 
weigh his prudence, he joined with him in the Royalty scheme. 
On the 2oth April, 1787, that ill-fated establishment was opened. 
Paper-war, informations, indictments were now rife. Palmer 
was supported by the Marquis of Carmarthen, and opposed 
most virulently by Harris and Colman. One Justice Staples, 



1 84 Charles Bannister. 

a low illiterate fellow, was persuaded to grant warrants against 
the principal actors (Charles Bannister amid the number), and 
committed them, to use his own language, as " willians, wag- 
rants, and wagabones," for fourteen days to Bridewell. John 
was present at the hearing, and implored Staples not to sign the 
warrant against his father ; at this moment a violent thunder- 
storm raged : " Let him sign it," said the intrepid Charles, " if 
he dares, whilst he hears the voice of heaven thundering against 
the deed." Staples did sign the warrant, but the parties were 
ultimately admitted to bail. Palmer changed the nature of his 
performances, producing a burletta called "Hero and Leander," 
but all in vain ; and the scheme ended in debt and misery to 
all engaged in it. The winter theatres refused to receive 
Charles ; Colman shut the Haymarket against him, and he 
returned to Norwich ; there, and throughout Norfolk and 
Suffolk, &c., he gave musical entertainments : whilst John was 
unceasing in his endeavours to obtain his father's recall. He 
at length succeeded, and Charles reappeared at the Haymarket : 
the cheering and waving of hats and handkerchiefs (the whole 
house rising) lasted many minutes. He retained his station as 
a leading favourite with the public until his retirement in 1797. 
After his retirement he took an annual benefit. That taken by 
him in November, 1800, was patronized by Lord Nelson; 
Lady Hamilton was present the house was crowded to excess. 
The veteran gave his imitations of Barry, Woodward, Hull, 
Aickin, Holland, Garrick, Foote, Vernon, and Champness : this 
was his last appearance he died in November 1804, and lies 
buried in St. Martin's Church. Abridged from " Recollections of 
Bannister and his Family" 

Charles Bannister had a fine voice, a fine taste, and a copious 
recollection of traits and tones. His song became an imitation, 
sometimes serious, oftener burlesque, of the principal singers 
of the period. In both he was excellent. Garrick once took 
Giordini, the famous violinist, to hear his imitations of Tenducci 
and Champneyo. The violinist declared the imitation perfect ; 
sarcastically remarking, however, that "it had one fault the 
voice of the mimic was better than that of the originals." He 
was a capital wit, and always in difficulties. A pleasantry oi 
his told both. At the time when all the world were talking of 
the death of Sir Theodosius Bough ton in 1781, who was 
poisoned by laurel-water, " Pooh," said Charles, " don't tell 
me of vour laurel leaves. I fear none but a bay-leaf" (bailiff). 



Lee Lewes. 185 

His wit was so redundant that he could afford to throw it away 
on his son. But Jack was a seedling of the same stock, and 
knew how to throw back the pleasantry fresh pointed. Once 
when he had caused his father some slight irritation the 
offence was marked by " Jack, I'll cut you off with a shil- 
ling." " I wish, father," said Jack, " you would give it to 
me now" His father, delighted at the kindred spirit, gave him 
much more than he had asked. 1 BlackwoocTs Magazine, 1839. 

Old Bannister had voice enough, but he had not a particle of 
science, and did wonders without it. Boaden. 

Bannister was in many respects superior to any singer that 
perhaps ever lived. The body and volume of voice which he 
possessed were only equalled by its sweetness and interest 
He had as much taste, as much playfulness, and as extensive 
power as the most fashionable of those singers who think 
singing totally consists in flexibility, and that a voice cannot 
be exercised to perfection unless when it is flying to the bridge 
of the fiddle, and sliding back again in chromatics. But Ban- 
nister had too much sense to use this power, except when he 
had an inclination to show how ridiculous it is. Thus in " The 
Son-in-Law" he sung "Water Parted from the Sea" with as 
much taste, as much sweetness, and as much variety as Ten- 
ducci, at the same time that he introduced a degree of bur- 
lesque into it that gave the blush to modern singing. Charles 
Dibdin, "History of the Stage." 

Lee Lewes. 

1740-1803. 

A comedian of the Woodward class, and like him an ex- 
cellent ground harlequin. Forty years had beheld him on the 
stage, and usually the victim of what was called the tyranny of 
management. But this, like most other charges, has two sides. 
One manager at least did not refuse him the use of his theatre, 
for Mr. Harris allowed him a benefit at Covent Garden, with 
such strength in his bill as he could assemble together. His 
play on this occasion was " The Wonder," in which, for the last 
time, he himself acted Lissardo, and he played it in the sty'c 
of his great master, and very divertingly. The benefit proved 

1 This story is comrr.only told of Sheridan and his son Tom. En. 



1 86 Lee Lewes. 

a very good one, but few indeed were the days it cheered ; for 
poor Lee Lewes, after supping with that entertaining man 
Townsend, the mimic, and some other friends, was found dead 
in his bed on the 23rd of July, 1803. Boaden? 

I was many years in friendship with Lewes ; his gaiety of 
temper was perhaps congenial to my own. He was from boy- 
hood a great favourite with the people of Dublin, Cork, and 
Limerick. Being very happy in his manner of speaking an 
epilogue called " Bucks, have at ye all," he was frequently 
called upon for it whether he played that night or not. Tired 
at last, he endeavoured to get out of his trammels. The 
college students misconstrued this into obstinacy and disrespect, 
and threw the house into nightly tumult by insisting that he 
should appear and speak it. His real friends pitied him, and 
strove to rescue him from this unjust persecution ; amongst 
others, a Captain Jones, a companion of Lewes's, who from the 
upper boxes used to gruff out, " No Bucks ! No Bucks !" 
Lewes at last told them he would speak the epilogue any 
certain number of nights they chose to name, but that number 
out he would not speak it again, unless it were specified in 
the play-bills. They persisted in their nightly demands, and 
he then listened to the proposals of the London managers. 
Garrick offered him a trial part at Drury Lane ; and Mr. Harris 
a certain engagement, and all the deceased Woodward's 
characters at Covent Garden. He wisely chose the latter. 
Lewes modelled his fine gentleman from the life. Being an 
admirer of Mossop, and acting with him in his own boyhood, 
he involuntarily caught much of Mossop's manner in tragedy, 
which brought him into some of the new tragedies in London ; 
among others, he acted Percy in Mrs. Hannah More's play 
of that name./ OKeefe? 



1 Boaden calls him " always vulgar, and with a bad manner of utterance." 
See "The Life of Mrs. Siddons." ED. 

2 The most brilliant of English dramatists. "His inventive powers," 
says a writer, "in the construction of odd phrases and quaint burdens for 
songs, his extraordinary combinations of strange fancies, and the con- 
trivance of a sort of significant gibberish, without meaning in itself, but 
fashioned so as to convey the most accurate and vivid idea of what he him- 
self meant to express, are matters beyond the power of analysis ; yet his 
farces are obsolete, and with the dramas of Foote lost to the stage and the 
public, because the popular taste has become so refined that it shrinks from 
broadness of humour and sharpness of wit into the safe refuge afforded by 
prancing horses, flying horses, masked assassins, and simmering Jewesses.' 



i8 7 

Mrs. Pope. 1 
1740-1797. 

I shall consider her as a daughter of Garrick's uVatre, because 
there she acquired all the resources of her arts, and they con- 
stituted her the most general actress the stage had ever seen. 
I can with perfect truth say that in tragedy, as well as comedy, 
there were characters of which she was the most perfect re- 
presentative. Had she possessed such a face as that of Mrs. 
Siddons, there might have been more ; but then, some of her 
sprightly comedy would have been awed down, and she might 
on the whole have been less distinguished. In the days of Yates 
and Barry, she established herself with unwearied diligence, and 
though always weak in point of chest, endured a continuance 
of exertion that was certainly too much for her strength. She 
was the universal favourite of her profession, and in private 
life affectionately honoured by all who were worthy of her 
society. Boaden. 

In 1770 I first saw Miss Younge (afterwards Mrs. Pope); she 



1 The name of Mrs. Pope recalls that of Miss Pope, a famous actress of 
the Garrick school, of whom I have succeeded in collecting only the fol- 
lowing notices : "She had a thin, poor voice, so that her rage wanted 
force. Her look, to be sure, was very satisfactory, and the dropping of her 
chin convulsive." Boaden. 

The very picture of a duenna, a maiden lady, or antiquated dowager 
the latter spring of beauty, the second childhood of vanity ; more quiet, 
fantastic, and old-fashioned, more pert, frothy, and light-headed than any- 
thing can be imagined. Hazlitt. 

With all the merry vigour of sixteen, 
Among the merry troop conspicuous seen, 
See lively Pope advance in jig and trip, 
Corinna, Cherry, Honeycomb, and Snip. 
Not without art, and yet to nature true, 
She charms the town with humour ever new. 
Cheer'd by her promise, we the less deplore 
The fatal time when Clive shall be no more. 

Churchill. 

A gentlewoman ever, with Churchill's compliment still burnishing upon 
her gay honeycomb lips. C. Lamb. 

The perfect gentlewoman as distinguished from the fine lady of 
comedy. Ibid. 

She was an actress of the highest order for dry humoui one of those 
who convey the most laughable things with a grave face. ... She was 
an admirable Mrs. Malaprop. L. Hunt 



1 88 Mrs. Pope. 

came over with Macklin to Dublin, and played both in tragedy 
and comedy : she was universally admired and respected. 
Her Lady Amaranth in my "Wild Oats " was excellent. Her 
invariable method was to read over to me the parts I purposely 
wrote for her, before she acted them. John O'Keefe. 

Miss Younge (afterwards Mrs. Pope) was above the middle 
height, and altogether finely formed about the neck and 
shoulders ; there was a roundness and precision in her speak- 
ing, and her manner was commanding, and though her face 
was not handsome, it was expressive. She was so very 
successful in her first appearance that her salary was raised, 
after a night or two of acting, to 3/., and at the end of the 
season to 5/., unsolicited ! On the 8th of June 1776, Garrick 
played Lear; it was the last night but one of his appearing on 
the stage ; the curtain fell in the usual way with his hand 
locked in Miss Younge's, who played Cordelia. In that way 
he led her into the green-room, and recollecting that his next 
performance was to be his last, he said with a sigh, " Oh, Bess ! 
this is the last time of my being your father ; you must now 
look out for some one else to adopt you." " Then, sir," said 
she, falling upon her knees, " pray give me a father's blessing." 
Raising her up, he said, " God bless you !" and adding to the 
performers (who had crowded round them) in a faltering and 
affectionate tone, " God bless you all !" hurried out of the 
room. Mrs. Pope used to relate this with great pleasure, but 
seldom without shedding tears. The Manager's Note-Book. 

In Half-moon Street, on the i5th of March, 1797, died the 
charming comic actress, Mrs. Pope. After having performed at 
Drury Lane for forty years, she retired from the stage into private 
life with an unblemished character and an easy fortune. She is said 
to have borne a strong resemblance to the beautiful Lady Sarah 
Lennox, the goddess of George III.'s early idolatry. Many 
years after the beauty of both ladies had been on the decline, 
the King happened to attend the performance at Drury Lane 
when Mrs. Pope was acting. The recollection of his youthful 
love came back to his mind, and in a moment of melancholy 
abstraction he is said to have observed to the Queen, " She is 
like Lady Sarah still." Jesse's "London." 

With this lady Garrick took most uncommon pains. It was 
not, however, until after a variety of experiments that she gained 
that hold of the public which she long and deservedly kept. 
It is needless to say what ware her particular merits ; they 






Dodd. 189 

too recently in the recollection of the public to be forgot 
They had to the hist a spice of her preceptor, and even her 
manner of filling the stage gave a strong idea of stage conduct 
in use five-and-thirty years ago. C. Dibdin. 

James Dodd. 
1741-1796. 

Dodd was the most perfect fopling ever placed upon the 
: he was the most exquisite coxcomb, the most ridiculous 
chatterer ever seen ; he took his snuff, or applied the quint- 
essence of roses to his nose with an air of complacent supe- 
riority, such as won the hearts of all conversant with that style 
of affectation. His walk upon the boards bespoke the sweet 
effeminacy of the person ; the pink heels, the muslin of his 
cravat and frills are dwelt upon by the amateurs of his day as 
specimens of his understanding the range of his art. He 
is spoken of as " the prince of pink heels, and the soul of 
empty eminence." Life of Sheridan? 

Dodd was a man of reading, and left at his death a choice 
collection of old English literature. I should judge him to 
have been a man of wit. I know one instance of an impromptu 
which no length of study could have bettered. My merry friend, 
Jem White, had seen him one evening in Aguecheek, and 
recognising Dodd the next day in Fleet Street, was irresistibly 
impelled to take off his hat, and salute him as the identical 
knight of the preceding evening with a " Save you, Sir 
Andrnv" Dodd, not at all disconcerted at this unusual 
address from a stranger, with a courteous j half-rebuking wave 
pf the hand, put him off with an "Away, Pool" Charles 
Lamb? 



1 Bonden finds fault with Dodd: "He always bestowed the whole 
teuiousness of his author upon the audience ; whereas your judicious 
player is alive to all the impressions he makes on the house, and cuts his 
matter short before it is insupportable." 

* In that charming essay of Lamb, " On Some of the Old Actors," there 
occurs an exquisite description of Dodd's appearance in his old age : 
"Taking my afternoon solace on a summer day upon the aforesaid terrace. 
a comely, sad personage came towards me, whom, from his grave air and 
deportment, I judged to be one of the old Benchers of the Inn. He had a 
serious, thoughtful forehead, and seemed to be in meditations of mortality ; 
.... the face turning full upon me, strangely identified itself with that of 



James Dodd. 

Mr. Dodd, the high, red-heeled stage-dandy of the old 
school of comedy, was (like the generality of actors of his day) 
a very pompous man, and cherished no mean estimate of the 
dignity of human nature, and especially of his professional 
occupation. Indeed, he obviously piqued himself upon his 
talents and quality as an actor, and considered his public 
reputation entitled to as much respect as his private virtues. 
In short, he was proud of his profession, and valued the means 
by which he existed almost as highly as he did existence itself. 
Mr. Dodd's general demeanour and dignity of deportment off, 
as well as on the stage, together with his rotund person, which 
was ably supported upon two short, though well-formed legs, 
always elegantly covered with silk stockings, and his feet with 
Spanish leather shoes, secured by costly buckles his hair 
bien poudre, the queue of which was folded curiously into a sort 
of knocker which fell below the collar of, ofttimes, a scarlet 
coat the little man, in short, was a decided fop of his day, 
both off and on the stage. Mrs. C. Mathews. 

If large theatres were of detriment to fine acting a fact 
which I for one do not question, since they have even demanded 
extravagance in the three articles of action, expression, and 
utterance perhaps to no one comedian would they be more 
fatal than to Dodd. This excellent actor had a weak voice, 
but as he managed it on the stage of his great master (Garrick) 
it was quite adequate to a cast of petit-maitres, a sort of thin 
essences, whom a gale too violent, or a noise too obstreperous, 
would seem to annihilate. Nor was he confined to the cox- 
comb whose wit almost redeemed his effeminacy ; he was the 
paragon representative of all fatuity, through all the comic 
varieties, for they are no more, in the genus that Congreve and 
his successors have struggled to impart to their copies. 
Boaden. 



Dodd. Upon close inspection, I was not mistaken. But could this sad, 
thoughtful countenance be the same vacant face of folly which I had hailed 
so often under circumstances of gaiety ; which I had never seen without a 
smile, or recognised but as the usher of mirth ; that looked out so formally 
flat in Foppington ; so impotently busy in Backbite ; so blankly divested of 
all meaning, or resolutely expressive of none in Acres, in Fribble, and a 
thousand agreeable impertinences ? .... The remembrance of the 
freedoms which I had taken with it came upon me with a reproach of 
hisult. I could have asked it pardon. I thought it looked upon me with 
of injury." 



James Dodd. 191 

There was a gossiping anecdote told of Dodd, for the truth 
of which I will not be answerable. He sojourned in lodgings 
near the theatre with a c/iere amie belonging to the company. 
This perhaps he might have found to be a snug arrangement 
in the summer months, if the tranquillity of the titc-a-tete had 
not been daily disturbed by discussing frivolous points, upon 
which the fond pair very furiously differed ; insomuch that the 
gentleman was wont to enforce his arguments more by missile? 
than by metaphors; in short, he threw chairs, tables, and chim- 
ney-piece crockery all about the room. In the heat of one o( 
these domestic fracas, which happened at an early dinner upon a 
shoulder of mutton, while Dodd clattered, and the chcre amie 
screamed, the landlord rushed upon the scene of action in 
hopes, if he could not prevent a further breach of the peace, to 
hinder their breaking more of his property. " How dare you, 
mister," ejaculated Dodd, who was brandishing the shoulder of 
mutton in his hand, " obtrude into our apartments while we are 
rclicarsin^r " Rehearsing !" cried the enraged landlord, while 
the broken bits of sham china were crunching under his feet, 
" I could have sworn you were fighting." " No, sir," said 
Dodd ; " we were rehearsing the supper scene in * Catherine 
and Petruchio, or the Taming of a Shrew?" "Why, it does 
look," observed his landlord, giving a glance round the room, 
" as if you had been trying to tame a shrew, sure enough." 
" Don't you know, fellow," asked Dodd, sternly, " that we are 
advertised to act the parts this very night ?" " Not I, truly," 
returned the host. " Then go downstairs, sir," cried the 
comedian, "and read the bill of the play; and read it every 
morning, sir, to prevent your repeating this impertinence." 
History records not whether the landlord read the playhouse 
bill ; but it sets forth that he did not forget his own. 1 George 
Colman. 

Dodd's great merit was singularity; which, guided by a 
perfect knowledge of his profession, rendered his exertions very 
respectable. C. Dibdin. 



1 It is also told of Dodd, who was fond of a long story, that being ia 
company one night, he began at twelve o'clock to relate a journey he had 
taken to Bath ; and at six o'clock in the morning he had proceeded no 
further than the Devizes ! The company then rose to separate ; when Dodd, 
who could not bear to be curtailed in his narrative, cried, "Don't go yet, 
Stay and bear it out, and upon my soul I'll make it entertaining." KD. 



Y9* 

Mrs. Badcleley. 
1742-1780. 

Her gaudy and fitful career reads like a troubled dream, 1 and 
robbed the stage of a graceful actress. No stranger picture of 
life can be conceived than her singular story ; her short and 
showy course, across which flit royal dukes, infatuated lords, 
rough and rude colonels, and the gradual fall and degradation, 
when a footman winds up the procession. Fitzgerald. 

In opera she performed Clarissa, Polly, and Rosetta, and 
Imogen in the play of " Cymbeline," in which her beautiful 
countenance used to excite the greatest interest. Amongst 
her peculiarities was an immoderate addiction to laudanum, 
which has the power of bestowing a momentary vivacity, sub- 
siding into an oblivion of care, succeeded by a wretchedness 
which itself alone can remove. It may reasonably be sup- 
posed on the night of her benefit she sought the doubtful aid 
in question, but it proved a treacherous ally. She was unfor- 



1 Mrs. Baddeley lived in the days of masquerades. Two were flourish- 
ing, one in Soho Square, under the management of a Mrs. Teresa Cornelys, 
a German singer, and one in the Pantheon, in Oxford Street. The ex- 
traordinary licentiousness of these assemblies it would be difficult to 
describe in decent language. Courtezans mingled with the daughters of 
peers ; and when, as it might happen, the attendance on some night was 
not great, the newspapers would lament "to see such spirited exertions so 
poorly rewarded, as scarcely one person of distinction, or one fille de joie of 
note, was present, to give a ton to the evening's entertainment." In 1778 
Mrs. Cornelys failed ; her establishment in Soho, called Carlisle House, 
was converted into a place for lectures, and the abandoned woman died in 
Fleet Prison in a state of utter destitution in 1797. At the Pantheon, how- 
ever, the masquerades continued to flourish ; growing more and more de- 
graded in their character, it was at length resolved that no "doubtful" 
persons should be admitted. A number of young men, members of the 
aristocracy, had vowed that let who might be refused admission to the 
Pantheon, Mrs. Baddeley should be let in. So many as fifty gentlemen 
closed around her chair, and accompanied her in solemn procession to the 
masquerade. The constables stationed at the portico refused to let her 
pass ; whereupon the numerous escort drew their swords, and fought a 
passage for her into the illuminated building. Here, sword in hand, they com- 
pelled the managers to come forward, and humbly apologise to Mrs. 
Baddeley for the inconvenience to which their restrictions had subjected 
her. Mrs. Abington, hearing of Mrs. Baddeley's triumphant entry, fol- 
lowed ; and with her admission the line which the Pantheon people had 
endeavoured to draw between virtue and vice was irrecoverably erased. ED. 



Mrs. Baddeley. 193 

tunately lame at the time, and intoxicated to stupidity by the 
fumes of the opiates she had swallowed. The worst of it was 
that the habit not being generally known, the stupefaction was 
attributed to drunkenness, and a disgust taken which is seldom, 
or rather never, quite removed. The sequel of this unfortu- 
nate existence may be worth a second paragraph. She soon 
became idle, disordered, unsteady, and of no value in the 
theatre ; dropped into neglect and contempt, and was plun- 
dered of the little she had by one of those attached friends 
which indolence is happy to find, and of which it is invariably 
the prey. Mrs. Baddeley had at one time her carriage, and 
every voluptuous enjoyment that a mere sensualist can enjoy ; 
but her wealth mouldered away, insensibly and unaccountably, 
and she died at Edinburgh shortly after, in the most squalid 
poverty and disease, in a state of mental horror which perhaps 
opium only is enabled to inflict upon us. To the last she was 
supported by the charity of the profession, always awake to a 
sister's claim, though on this occasion with the dreadful reflec- 
tion that either as to herself or society, it would have been 
better if her release had earlier arrived. Boaden. 

Mrs. Baddeley, more celebrated for her beauty and gallantry 
than for her wit or professional skill. Her picture represents the 
most voluptuous of faces, with large melting dark eyes and 
full rosy lips. The beauty is caressing a cat ; the cat plays 
with a tress of soft hair which has fallen over the white shoulder. 
Cats were Mrs. Baddeley's favourite pets, and the one in her 
picture is no doubt a portrait. C. . Leslie. 

When Holland, the tragedian, was at the point of death, 
Mrs. Baddeley wanted much to see him, declaring she could 
not exist without taking leave of her dear Charles. The nurse 
took every method to prevent her, but in vain. At last she 
said, " Madam, he desires to be composed awhile, for he has 
just taken the sacrament." " Has he, indeed?" replied the 
enamoured idiot ; " then I will wait till it has worked off'" 
Wewitzer. 

She combined the powers of acting, speaking, and singing 
in the same part : her voice was not extensive, though very 
pleasing ; her manner was delicate, her conception of each 
character was true, her beauty was fascinating ; she displayed 



1 This story has its improbability diminished by Francis Grose, who -o 
his " Olio" gives it to one of the mistresses of the Earl of Harrington. ED. 



194 Philip Astley. 

a soft and gentle complacency whenever she received the 
tokens of affection in a love scene, and her response was truly 
dove-like ; her Juliet was never surpassed, nor was her Fanny 
in " The Clandestine Marriage" ever equalled. C. H. Wilson. 

Philip Astley. 1 
1742-1814. 

Poor old Astley used to talk of a " krockudile wat stopped 
Halexander's harmy, and when cut hopen, had a man in 
harmour in its hintellects." He (Astley) had two or three 
hard words that he invariably misapplied "pestiferous" he 
always substituted for "pusillanimous," and he was wont to 
observe that he should be a ruined man, for his horses ate most 
vociferously. Records of a Veteran. 

Philip Astley, a celebrated horse-rider, who first exhibited 
equestrian pantomimes, in which his son (who survived his 
father but a short time) rode with great grace and agility. 
Astley had at once theatres in Paris, London, and Dublin, and 
migrated with his actors, biped and quadruped, from one to 
the other. Both father and son were remarkably handsome, 
the elder of large proportions but perfect symmetry. J. W. 
Croker. 

Old Astley, when he first returned from France, was accosted 
by a friend, who asked him if he had seen the French Prince 
of Wales when he was in Paris. " Go," says he, " you igno- 
ramus, there is no Prince of Wales in France ; he's the 
Dolphin. Why, I mought have learnt him to ride if I would/' 
"Is the young prince like his father?" "His father! Lord 
help your silly head ! his father could never get that there 
child ; his father's omnipotent." R. Wewitzer. 



1 Of Mrs. Astley, "a minor actress of much merit," "wife of the old 
gentleman called Old Astley," the "Veteran" says : " She had such luxuriant 
hair that she could stand upright, and it covered her to her feet like a veil. 
She was very proud of these flaxen locks ; and a slight accident by fire 
having befallen them, she resolved ever after to play in a wig. She used, 
therefore, to wind this immense quantity of hair around her head, and put 
over it a capacious caxon, the consequence of which was that her head 
bore about the same proportion to the rest of her figure that a whale's skull 
does to its body ; and as she played most of the heroines, the reader may 
judge the effect." 






195 

Anne Catley. 
1745-1789. 

There was in her personal character a good deal of the care- 
less boldness of Woffington ; like her, too, she was extremely 
handsome, and her eye and mouth had a peculiar expression 
of archness. She aimed at the almost manly frankness of 
speech, and acted as one superior to censure, when she raised 
the wonder of prudery. Catley had an understanding too 
sound to vindicate the indiscretions of her youth ; but her 
follies did not long survive that period, and she amply atoned 
in her maturity for the scandal she had excited formerly in 
society. There was a graceful propriety in her domestic con- 
cerns. She was never profuse, and could therefore be liberal 
in all her arrangements. Boaden, " Life of Jordan" 

To those who have never heard Miss Catley I must, as my 
manner is, try to give some notion of what was peculiar to 
her. It was the singing of unequalled animal spirits ; it was 
Mrs. Jordan's comedy carried into music the something more 
that a duller soul cannot conceive, and a feeble nerve dare not 
venture. Even at the close of her theatric life, when con- 
sumptive and but the ghost of her former self, gasping even 
for breath, and wasting her little remaining vitality in her exer- 
tion, she would make sometimes a successful attempt at one of 
her former brilliant rushes of musical expression, and mingle a 
pleasing astonishment along with the pain you were compelled 
to suffer. No other female singer ever gave the slightest 
notion of her. She was bold, volatile, audacious. Saville 
Carey I have heard sometimes touch her manner feebly in the 
famous triumph of her hilarity, "Push about the Jorum." Ibid. 
" Life of Siddonsr 

The first time of my venturing into a theatre after my defeat, 
Miss Catley, the celebrated singer, accosted me from a front 
low in the lower boxes, loud enough, as I was many rows back, 
to be heard by all and everybody. " So, O'Keefe, you had a 
piece damned the other night. I'm glad of it. The devil 
mend you for writing an opera without bringing me into it." 
A few moments after Miss Catley had thus accosted me, Leoni 
entered the box with a lady leaning on his arm. Miss Catley, 
catching his eye, called out, " How do you do, Leoni ? I 
hear you're married is that your wife ? Bid her stan.d up till 

9 9 



196 Mrs. Mattocks. 

I see her." Leoni, abashed, whispered the lady, who, with 
good-humoured compliance, stood up. Catley, after surveying 
her a little said, " Ha ! very well indeed. I like your choice." 
The audience around us seemed more diverted with this scene 
in the boxes than that on the stage, as Miss Catley and her 
oddities were well known to all. She was one of the most 
beautiful women I ever saw ; the expression of her eyes and 
the smiles and dimples that played around her lips and cheeks 
were enchanting. She was eccentric, but had an excellent 
heart. She wore her hair plain over her forehead, in an even 
line almost to her eyebrows. This set the fashion in Dublin, 
and the word was with all the ladies to have their hair Catlefied. 
aKeefe. 

This celebrated actress and singer was born of poor parents, 
her father being only a gentleman's coachman, and afterwards 
the keeper of a public-house near Norwood, known by the 
name of The Horns. At the age of fifteen she was bound 
apprentice to Mr. Bates, a composer of some eminence. Her 
first appearance in public was at Vauxhall, in 1762, and in the 
same year she appeared at Covent Garden. She was at this 
period remarkable for little more than the beauty of her person 
and a diffidence in public, which she soon got rid of. She 
was, to use the words of a diurnal writer, " the favourite of 
Thalia, the favourite of the town, and the favourite of fortune." 
She is said to have been married to General Lascelles, at whose 
house near Brentford she died. Eccentric Biography ', 1803. 

Mrs. Mattocks. 
1745-1826. 

Mrs. Mattocks has had no successor on the English stage. 
She was a highly accomplished actress, with a manner some- 
what broad. She was the paragon representative of the 
radically vulgar woman, of any or no fashion, of whatever con- 
dition or age. The country Malkin, too, was taken to 
" Lunnun" by her with her " stumping gait" and " idiot 
goggle," so as to banish from her spectators the remotest 
suspicion that she herself could be the refined and sensible 
lady she was in private life. Her favourite partners on the 
stage were Quick and Lewis ; and exquisite merriment 
ceeded from their union. Boaden. 






Mrs. Mai locks. 197 

This distinguished actress of the old school of comedy 
appears to have been born about the year 1745. She was, as 
it may be termed, a child of the stage. Her father, Mr. 
JIullum, was at one period manager of Goodman's Fields 
Theatre; her mother was related to Beard, the principal 
singer of his time ; and a brother of hers, some years ago, 
was the manager of a theatrical company in America. Her 
father, in a dispute with Macklin, the celebrated Shylock, at a 
rehearsal, received so severe a wound in the eye from the 
walking-stick of the ruffian which, in fact, Macklin was that 
he died on the spot. Macklin was tried for the offence at the 
Old Bailey, but acquitted, as it was deemed the effect of 
sudden passion, not of malice prepense. Receiving a superior 
education, Miss Hallam voluntarily adopted the stage as a 
pursuit, and came forward with the reputation of high accom- 
plishments. All her early appearances were in singing 
characters: she was the first Louisa in the opera of the 
" Duenna." Occasionally she attempted tragedy, but with 
little success. In her performance of the second character in 
Hook's tragedy of "Cyrus," she was completely thrown into 
the background by the fine figure and admirable acting of 
Mrs. Yates in Mandane^ the heroine of the piece. Study and 
observation, however, induced her to attempt the sprightly 
parts of low comedy, such as abigails, citizens' wives, &c. ; and 
in these she succeeded to her wishes. The delicacy of her 
person, the vivacity of her temper, and a distinguishing judg- 
ment, all showed themselves to advantage in this walk, and 
she rapidly became a universal favourite with the town. This 
is no slight praise, when we consider that amongst her con- 
temporaries were Mrs. Green (Sheridan's first Duenna\ and 
Mrs. Abington; and that, in the earlier part of her career, 
even Mrs. Clive had not left the stage. Miss Hallam stood thus 
high in the estimation of the public, when Mr. Mattocks, of 
the same theatre, first paid his addresses to her. He was a 
vocal performer of some consequence, and a respectable actor. 
A mutual attachment appears to have ensued ; and, to avoid 
the opposition of the lady's parents, the lovers took a trip to 
France, and were married. The union, however, does not 
appear to have been a very happy one : infidelities on both 
sides led to an open rupture ; and, if we mistake not to a sepa- 
ration. Notwithstanding this, when Mr. Mattocks, some years 
afterwards, became manager of the Liverpool theatre, his 



198 Charles Dibdin. 

wife performed there all the principal characters. The specu- 
lation proving unfortunate, Mrs. Mattocks re-engaged herself 
at Covent Garden Theatre, where, we believe, she held an 
uninterrupted engagement as an actress of first-rate celebrity in 
her walk, until her final retirement from the stage, now more 
than twenty years ago. Hers was the most affecting theatrical 
leave-taking we ever witnessed. She had played, with all the 
freshness and spirit of a woman in her prime, the part of 
Flora, in " The Wonder," to Cooke's Don Felix. After the 
play, she having changed her stage dress for the lady-like 
attire of black silk, was led forward by Cooke in a suit of 
black velvet, with weepers, &c. Her feelings enabled her to 
utter only a few impressive words. There was scarcely a dry 
eye in the house : she retired amidst the most heartfelt plaudits 
of the theatre. Mrs. Mattocks possessed a good stage-face and 
figure, and her broad stare, her formal deportment, her coarse 
comic voice, and her high colouring, enabled her to give 
peculiar effect to the characters in which she excelled. In the 
delivery of the ludicrous epilogues of the late Miles Peter 
Andrews, which always required dashing spirit, and the imita- 
tion of vulgar manners, she was eminently successful. She is 
understood to have been a great favourite of her late Majesty 
Queen Charlotte. She left one daughter, who married 
Mr. Hewson, a barrister. That gentleman, unfortunately, 
lived only a few years after the union. The portion which he 
received with his wife was laid out in the purchase of one of 
the City pleaderships ; the precaution of insuring Mr. Hewson's 
life was overlooked ; and, upon his death, after holding the 
appointment not more than a year or two, the purchase-money 
was, in consequence, lost to his widow. Mrs. Mattocks died 
on the 25th of June, where she had long resided, at Ken- 
sington. New Monthly Magazine, 1826. 

Charles Dibdin. 
1745-1814. 

In 1792 I saw Charles Dibdin's (senior) entertainment at the 
Strand. It was most excellent. His manner of coming on the 
stage was in most happy style. He ran on sprightly, and 
with nearly a laughing face, like a friend who enters hastily to 
impart some good news. Nor did he disappoint his audience ; 






Charles DibJin. 199 

he sung, and accompanied himself on an instrument which was 
a concert in itself; he was, in fact, himself his own band. A 
few lines of speaking happily introduced his admirable songs, 
full of wit and character, and his peculiar mode of singing them 
surpassed all I ever heard.' Dibdin's music to the " Padlock," 
the " Jubilee," the " Waterman," the " Quaker," &c,, was most 
successfully productive. John O'Xecfe. 1 

It has been said that his pathetic ballads were really from 
the pen of Bickerstaff, 2 who fled from England many years since, 
but who had been a kind friend to Dibdin in his youth and 
poverty. Dr. Kitchener, who -was a warm admirer of Dibdin, 
believed that two or three songs were Bickerstaff's ; but ad- 
mitting, for argument's sake, thirty to have been his, enough 
remain to prove Charles a first-rate lyrist in his peculiar style. 
Poor Dibdin was very Mahomedan in his notions respecting 
the other sex, and he generally gave feasts on the birthdays of 
his Sultanas. When I knew him two feast-days per week must 
have been about the average. He was a shrewd man, an 
accurate, but not an acute observer, a good musician, had an 
extensive voice, but almost wholly without tone : his style of 
entertainment would not be endured now; it was too senti- 



1 It was in Thompson's shop that the elder Dibdin, together with 
Herbert Stopplear, planned the Patagonian Theatre a scheme that 
answered for a few seasons from its novelty, as nothing of the kind had 
appeared in the metropolis from the beginning of the century, when the 
celebrated Mr. Powell's puppets divided the attention of the public with the 
regular theatres. Dibdin wrote little pieces for the Patagonian stage, 
which was about six feet wide, composed the music, and assisted in re- 
citing the parts which the puppets, not more than ten inches high, per- 
formed. He also accompanied the singers and himself on a smooth- 
toned organ. Stopplear, who also spoke for the puppets, painted the 
scenes in conjunction with an artist of some merit. The " Padlock," which 
had been performed at the Haymarket, one of the first efforts of Dibdin's 
dramatic talent, was played by these mechanical dolls with great applause, 
Dibdin being Mungo. The whole exhibition was skilfully managed in a 
neat little theatre, with boxes, pit, and gallery, which held about two 
hundred persons. Wine and Walnuts. 

a Isaac Bickerstaff, the well-known author of " Love in a Village." He 
fled the country on suspicion of a capital crime. Mrs. Piozzi, in her 
anecdotes of Dr. Johnson, says: "When Mr. Bickerstaff s flight con- 
firmed the report of his guilt, and Mr. Thrale said, in answer to Johnson's 
astonishment, that he had long been a suspected man ' By those who look 
close to the ground dirt will be seen, sir,' was the lofty reply. 'I hope 1 
*ee things from a greater distance.' " ED. 



2OO Richard Yates. 

mental ; there never was a hearty laugh to be had out of him. 
Records of a Veteran. 

Charles Dibdin, to whom the army, the navy, and the whole 
nation were so deeply indebted for his Tyrtaean strains, as well 
as for his multifarious compositions calculated to inspire a love 
of country and a zeal to protect it in a time of imminent danger, 
exhibited a remarkable precocity of intellect. At sixteen years 
of age he brought out an opera at Covent Garden Theatre, called 
" The Shepherd's Wedding," written and composed by himself. 
Forty-six other dramas of various descriptions, with about a 
dozen other literary productions, and several hundred songs, 
many of which are the best in the English language, record the 
talents of Mr. Dibdin, and the disgraceful neglect with which 
he was treated by his ungrateful country ; for although he 
enjoyed a pension from Government of 2oo/. a year for a few 
years, yet, on a change of Administration, this was taken from 
him, and the man who deserved a civic crown, was left, 
admired it is true, but neglected in his old age. Percy 
Anecdotes. 

He had about him that cachet of originality which is the 
primary merit of a writer, whatever be his school ; to this must 
also be added that Dibdin exercised a lyrical influence made 
an individual impression by songs, such as English song- 
writers have scarcely ever attained ..... He began by imita- 
ting the regular, conventional, feebly epigrammatic, insincerely 
sentimental, eighteenth-century manner. Not till he was about 
forty did he do justice to his true genius in the hearty, 
humorous, and genuinely tender nautical songs on which his 
real fame rests. Cornhill Magazine, 1860. 

Richard Yates. 



An excellent comedian, one of Garrick's own school of 
natural actors, and whose rule was, on receiving a new 
part, to fix on some living person who was a little like it, 
study him attentively, and thus gain vitality for it. P* 
Fitzgerald. 



Lo ! Yates ! without the least finesse of art, 
He gets applause. I wish he'd get his part. 



I 



John Palmer. 201 

When hot impatience is in full career 

How vilely " Hark'e, Hark'e " grates the ear I 1 Churchill. 

Churchill had ridiculed the only fault, perhaps, which coula 
fairly be charged on this actor, which was an occasional defect 
of memory. To hide this he would sometimes repeat a 
sentence two or three times over ; and to show his courage, 
after the poem was published, he took particular care to 
reiterate the very words which Churchill had made the record 
of his satire. T. Davies. 

Yates was one of those meritorious actors who added to chaste 
nature becoming respectability. He had his hardnesses, and 
those, who like Churchill, cavil in parcels, and are too acri- 
monious to be candid, may on this account condemn him in the 
lump ; but I should not despair of proving that Yates had 
as good an understanding as Churchill, and that as an actor 
he accomplished his public duty upon honester and more 
respectable grounds than the other as an author. I know of 
no French actor so good as Yates ; though had he been a 
Frenchman, the Lisimons, Gerontes, and every species of 
fathers and guardians characterized by humour and caprice 
would have been exactly in his way. He had the best parts of 
Boeneval, Dessesarts, and Bellecour. On the English stage he 
resembled Underhill, but with considerable advantage. No 
actor was ever more chaste, more uniform, more characteristic ; 
and though, perhaps, sometimes he overshot those particular 
spots which nature designed him to hit, yet upon the whole his 
acting in an eminent degree was gratifying to the public and 
exemplary to the stage. C. Dibdin. 

John Palmer. 
1747-1798. 

Palmer's Joseph Surface seems to have been perfectly un- 
approachable by any competitor. So admirable a hypocrite 
has never yet been seen : his manners, his deportment, his 
address, combined to render him the very man he desired to 



1 Yates's memory in early life was bad ; it improved, oddly enough, 
when most men's memories become impaired. To give himself time to 
recall his part he would address his interlocutor several times with a 
"Hark ye, hark ye." ED. 



2O2 John Palmer. 

paint. His performance on the stage bore a very strong 
similarity to that he was famous for in private life. He was 
plausible, of pleasing address, of much politeness, and even of 
great grace. He was fond of pleasure, which he pursued with 
so much avidity as to be generally very careless of his theatrical 
duties ; but when he had committed some gross absurdity, or 
had been, through neglect of his duties, on the verge of hear- 
ing a loud shout of disapprobation, " he cast up his eyes with 
an expression of astonishment, or cast them down as if in 
penitent humility, drew out his eternal white handkerchief to 
smother his errors, and bowed himself out of his scrapes. "- 
Life of Sheridan. 

John Palmer, though an excellent actor, could not rise to a 
due conception of Falstajf's humour. He was heavy in it 
throughout. J. Taylor, 1814. 

Take him for all in all, he was the most unrivalled actor of 
modern times. He could approach a lady, bow to her, and 
seat himself gracefully in her presence. We have had dancing- 
masters in great profusion since his time ; but such deportment 
they have either not known or never taught. He walked the 
stage in a manner peculiarly calculated to occupy it by his figure 
and action, with a measured and rather lingering step. 1 Boaden. 

One afternoon Palmer, who inhabited a house in Kentish 
Town, was nailing up a grape-vine, and while so employed 
was stung most severely in the eye by a wasp. The inflamma- 
tion was so violent that his eye was closed by it. He sent off 
an express to the theatre, and an apology was made for his 
sudden indisposition. Upon hearing this, a gentleman of 
pertinacious theatrical habits rose in the pit, and stated that 
he was convinced this was one of Mr. Palmer's disgraceful 
neglects of his audience. This incensed the audience, and 
nothing would serve them but that Palmer must be sent for, 



1 A friend complimenting Palmer one day upon the ease of his address 
"No," said Jack, "I really don't give myself the credit of being so irre- 
sistible as you have fancied me. There is, however, one thing in the way 
of address which I think I am able to do. Whenever I am arrested, I 
think I can always persuade the sheriff's officers to bail me." His in- 
variable excuse for every omission of punctuality, for every neglect of duty, 
for every postponement of engagement, was his wife. With handkerchief, 
in hand, he would sigh, "My best of friends, this is the most awful period 
of my life. I cannot be with you, for my beloved wife, the partner of my 
sorrows and my joys, is just confined." Some one calculated that his wife 
rendered him a happy father once in every two months. ED. 






John Palmer. 203 

and after much remonstrance the manager himself paint, 
pumps, and all set off in a carriage to Kentish Town, where 
he found Palmer suffering much from the accident, and not 
shamming. He explained the urgency of the case, popped 
him into the glass coach, and carried him as he was to the 
theatre, where, in a few minutes and in his deshabille, he made 
his appearance before the audience, who, seeing Palmer walk 
in apparently perfectly well, the light and the distance render- 
ing the sting almost imperceptible, began to hiss and laugh, 
and cheer the obstinate little man in the pit for having brought 
the culprit before them. Palmer advanced to the front of the 
stage, and having assumed an imploring attitude, was at length 
not till after a heavy fire of orange-peel and other missiles 
permitted to explain. " Ladies and gentlemen," said Palmer. 
11 1 am aware of the odd effect my appearance here may pro- 
duce after the apology which has been made for my illness, 
which I thought it hardly possible to describe by communica- 
tion to the theatre." " No wonder !" "Shame!" " Whafs 
the matter ?" " The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, my illness 
was all my eye !" Cyrus Redding? 

The elder Palmer (of stage-treading celebrity) commonly 
played Sir Toby in those days ; but there is a solidity of wit 
in the jests of that half Falstaff which he did not quite fill 
out. He was as much too showy as Moody (who sometimes 
took the part) was dry and sottish. In sock or buskin there 
was an air of swaggering gentility about Jack Palmer. He 
was a gentleman with a slight infusion of the footman. His 
brother Bob, 2 of recenter memory, who was his shadow in 



1 The story goes of Palmer's end, that he dropped dead after speaking 
the words, "There is another and a better world," from the "Stranger." 
The words he did endeavour to articulate were, not as the above are, in the 
second act, but in the fourth act : "I left them at a small town hard by." 
Last words ought to be received with great caution. A characteristic 
sentence may be pronounced by a man, and repeated as his "last words," 
when in reality he did not die until long after they were spoken. The 
awful significance claimed for " last words" can be imparted only by death 
immediately following their delivery, as in the case of Paterson, who dropped 
dead in Moody's arms, after repeating from "Measure for Measure" the 
lines 

" Reason thus with life : 
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing 
That none but fools would keep : a breath thou art. " 

1 Of Robert Palmer, George Colman says, he was "unique in a 



204 John Palmer. 

everything while he lived, and dwindled into less than a 
shadow afterwards, was a gentleman with a little stronger 
infusion of the latter ingredient : that was all. It is amazing 
how a little more or less makes a difference in these things. 
When you saw Bobby in the Duke's Servant you said, 
" What a pity such a pretty fellow was only a servant." When 
you saw Jack in Captain Absolute, you thought you could trace 
his promotion to some lady of quality, who fancied the hand- 
some fellow in his top-knot, and had bought him a commission. 
There, Jack in Dick Amlet was insuperable. Charles Lamb. 

"What is your opinion of Mr. Palmer's ShylockT' MACKLIN: 
" Why, sir, my opinion is that Mr. Palmer played the character 
of Shylock in one style. In this scene there was a sameness, in 
that scene a sameness, and in every scene a sameness. It was 
all same ! same ! same ! no variation. He did not look the 
character, nor laugh the character, nor speak the character of 
Shakspeare's Jew. Indeed, sir, he did not hit the part, nor the 
part hit Mm? Kirkmarfs "Life of Macklin" 

The two Palmers were actors of great merit ; the only draw- 
back on both was manner, which in the first was too refined, 
and in the other too vulgar. C. Dibdin. 

His embarrassed circumstances caused him at one time to 
live in his dressing-room in Dmry Lane Theatre, and when the 
Haymarket re-opened for the summer season, at which he was 
engaged, the fear of arrest suggested the expedient of convey- 
ing him with a cart full of scenery, in one of the cabinets used 
in " The Prize," and in this manner he actually was removed 
from one theatre to the other. 1 Life of Mathews. 



few sketches of dramatic character, but he never attained the highest 
walks." 

1 A similar story is told of William Phillips, a famous Harlequin, who 
was, I believe, a contemporary of Garrick. He was arrested for a debt, 
and lodged in a sponging-house ; here, having liberally treated the bailiff to 
drink, he pretended that he had a dozen of wine ready packed at his house, 
which he begged permission to send for, to drink while he was in 
custody, offering to pay sixpence a bottle for the privilege. The bailiff 
acceded to his request, and the wine was ordered to be brought. On a 
porter presenting himself with the load, the turnkey called to his master 
that the porter and hamper had come. " Very well," answered the bailiff; 
*' then let nothing but the porter and hamper out." The porter acted his 
part well : came heavily in with an empty hamper, and went lightly out 
with Phillips on his back. ED. 






205 

John Henderson. 
1747-1785. 

Henderson was a truly great actor ; his ffaw/etand his Falslaff 
were equally good. He was a very fine reader too ; in his 
comic readings superior, of course, to Mrs. Siddons ; his John 
Gilpin was marvellous. 1 S. Rogers. 

I have seen many Falstaffs, but none that thoroughly satisfied 
me. Henderson's was the most entertaining, but his tones in 
general were more like an old woman than an old man ; and 
he laughed too much, though, indeed, that practice may suc- 
cessfully draw the laugh of an audience. J. Taylor, 1814. 

He was a fine actor, with no great personal advantages, 
indeed, but he was the soul of feeling and intelligence. Mrs. 
Siddons : Campbell's " Life." 

The power of Henderson as an actor was analytic. He was 
not contented with the mere light of common meaning ; he 
showed it you through a prism, and reflected all the delicate 
and mingling hues that enter into the composition of any ray 
of human character. Besides, he had a voice so flexible that 
his tones conveyed all that his meaning would insinuate. 
Boaden. 

Professor Dugald Stewart, who knew Henderson, told me 
that his power of memory was the most astonishing he had 
ever met with. In the philosopher's presence he took up a 
newspaper, and after reading it once, repeated such a portion 
of it as to Mr. Stewart seemed marvellous. When he expressed 



1 When Kemble played Sir Giles Overreach, he was so anxious to repre- 
sent the part as Henderson had represented it that he wrote to Mrs. Inch- 
bald, who had acted Lady Allworth to Henderson's Sir Giles, to know 
"what kind of a hat does Mr. Henderson wear? What kind of wig, of 
;ravat, of ruffles, of clothes, of stockings ; with or without embroidered 
clocks, square or round-toed shoes ? I shall be uneasy if I have not an 
idea of his dress, even to the shape of his buckles, and what rings he 
wears on his hands. Moroseness and cruelty seem the groundwork of this 
monstrous figure ; but I am at a loss to know whether in copying it I 
should draw the lines that express his courtesy to Lord Lewd with an 
exaggerated or mere natural strength ? Will you take the pains to inform 
me in what particular points Mr. Henderson chiefly excelled, and in what 
manner he executed them ?" Mrs. Inchbald's answer is unfortunately lost. 
ED. 



2O.6 John Henderson. 

his surprise, Henderson modestly replied, " If you had been, 
like me, obliged to depend, during many years, for your daily 
bread on getting words by heart, you would not be so much 
astonished at habit having produced this facility." Thomas 
Campbell. 

I have seen the great Henderson, who has something, and 
is nothing he might be made to figure among the puppets of 
these times. His Don John is a comic Cato, and his Hamlet 
a mixture of tragedy, comedy, pastoral, farce, and nonsense. 
However, though my wife is outrageous, I am in the secret ; 
and see sparks of fire which might be blown to warm even a 
London audience at Christmas he is a dramatic phe- 
nomenon, and his friends, but more particularly Cumberland, 
has (have) ruined him ; he has a manner of paving when he 
would be emphatic, that is ridiculous, and must be changed, 
or he would not be suffered at the Bedford Coffee-house. 
David Gar rick, I775. 1 

The elder Colman objected to the style in which Henderson 
sometimes dressed himself, and condemned his costume in 
Shylock as too shabby. Foote said of him, that "he 
would not do ;" and Garrick's contempt of him amounted 
to personal enmity. All this seems to confirm the idea that 
he was not so extraordinary a man as his friends represented. 
Gait? 

There is no denying that he had contracted some bad 
habits in his deportment, such as an odd mode of receding 
from parties on the stage, with the palms of his hands turned 
outwards, and thus backing from one of the dramatis per sonce. 
when he was expressing happiness at meeting. With these 
adventitious faults, he had to contend against physical draw- 
backs : his eye wanted expression, and his figure was not 
well put together. My father was anxious to start him in 



1 In a letter from Bath, Garrick wrote : "'The Inflexible Captain* 
has been played here with success ; Henderson played Regulus, and you 
would have wished him bunged up with his nails before the end of the 
third act." 

2 John Gait was bom at Irvine, Ayrshire, 1779. He was a voluminous 
writer, his chief works being " Laurie Tod" (a novel), a " Life of Byron," 
his " Autobiography," " The Annals of the Parish," and the " Lives of the 
Players." Byron praised him as a man of strong sense and of great 
experience. Sir "Walter Scott warmly admired his novels. He died, 
aged sixty. ED. 



y ohn Henderson. 207 

characters whose dress might either help or completely hide 
personal deficiencies ; accordingly it was arranged that the two 
first personations should be Shylock and Hamlet, in which the 
Jew's gaberdine and the Prince of Denmark's " inky cloak" 
and " suit of solemn black," were of great service. I know 
not whether Falstaff immediately followed these, but whenever 
he did come, Sir John's proportions were not expected to 
present a model for the students of the Royal Academy. ]5y 
this management the actor's talents soon made sufficient way 
to battle such ill-natured remarks as might have been expected 
upon symmetry ; and the audience was prepared to admit, 
when he came to the lovers and heroes, that 

" I'.cforc such merit all objections fly." 

George Caiman, " Random Records." 

George III., like his eldest son and grandfather, pre- 
ferred comedy to tragedy. George IV. could not bear " the 
harrowing of the heart" that Kean's Othello gave him. A 
new comedy of Cumberland attracted his Majesty George III. 
and Queen Charlotte to Covent Garden about 1778; it 
was entitled " The Mysterious Husband," and Henderson 
acted the hero. It proved to be one of the serio-comic dramas 
then in vogue ; and in the last scene the principal character 
dies. Henderson's delineation was perfection. His Majesty's 
attention was riveted to the stage; but he at length ex- 
claimed, " Charlotte, don't look it's too much to bear !" The 
play, by Royal desire, was never repeated. Henderson's 
countenance was of the same order as Macready's flat, but 
capable of great variety of expression. His imitations of his 
contemporaries might justly have been termed impersonations 
or identifications the look, tone, carriage, expression, even 
the thoughts in extemporaneous dialogue, were those of the 
individual he represented. Henderson, though not an 
imitator, was in the school of Garrick ; John Kemble in that 
of Barry, or rather of Quin ; for Barry was only a graceful 
disciple of the Quin school of oratory. Records of a Stage 
Veteran. 



208 

William Lewis. 1 
1748-1811. 

Mr. Lewis had rather a spare habit of body, but seemed 
always in possession of even florid health. His figure from his 
deportment might be deemed even elegant in the scenes of 
comic luxuriance ; when he exceeded all the common bounds 
set to human action he never was vulgar, no not for an 
instant. Where all the manners are diverting, it is difficult to 
sketch any in very bold relief; but he had one peculiarity 
which was the richest in effect that can be imagined, and was 
always an addition to the character springing from himself. It 
might be called an attempt to take advantage of the lingering 
sparks of gallantry in the aunt or the mother of sixty, or the 
ancient maiden whom he had to win, to carry the purposes of 
those for whom he was interested. He seemed to throw the lady 
by degrees off her guard, until at length his whole artillery of 
assault was applied to storm the struggling resistance ; and the 
Mattockses and the Davenports of his attention sometimes com- 
plained of the perpetual motion of his chair, which compelled 
them to a ludicrous retreat, and kept the spectator in a roar of 
laughter. In short, whether sitting or standing, he was never 
for a moment at rest his figure continued to exhibit a series of 
undulating lines, which indicated a self-complacency that never 
tired, and the sparkling humour of his countenance was a signal 
hung out for enjoyment, that it would have been treason 
against human happiness to refuse to obey. Boadcn. 

How much this matchless gentlemanly comedian was re- 
spected in private life is evident, as on the day succeeding 
the violent epileptic attack which he experienced during the 



1 We read that the " youth of Lewis, with all its sparkling captivations, 
was not undistinguished by the sex. Among his foreign admirers he had 
the honour to number the celebrated Gabrielli. On her arrival in this 
country she paid a visit to Covent Garden Theatre, and was powerfully 
struck by the grace of Lewis. As an Italian singer is usually little dis- 
posed to refuse herself any attainable object of her wishes, she resolved 
to send off love's ambassador with the frank declaration of her passion, 
and a gracious command to Mercutio to visit her immediately. Rauzzini, 
however, changed the arrangement by apprising the Gabrielli that the 
habits of this country did not allow of such rapid movements, even in 
matters of the first taste. She reluctantly yielded to his experience." 



I 



William Lewis. 209 

rehearsal of " Delays and Blunders," among many other high 
personages who kindly called at his house to make inquiries 
concerning his health, were his present Majesty, and his Royal 
Highness the Duke of York. Thus truly should desert be 
crowned. F. Reynolds. 

Lewis is rapidly whirling away from the recollection of the 
present generation. He blended the gracefulness of Barry 
with the energy of Garrick, and superadded to these acquire- 
ments his own unceasing activity and amazing rapidity both of 
utterance and motion. In his early days he had been a 
tragedian, and retained enough of his superior powers to 
deliver sentiment gracefully ; but his great qualification was 
of nature's giving his animal spirits. No greyhound ever 
bounded, no kitten ever gambolled, no jay ever chattered 
(sing, neither the bird nor man in question ever cor Id) with 
more apparent recklessness of mirth than Lewis acted. All 
was sunshine with him : he jumped over the stage properties as 
if his leap-frog days had just commenced ; danced the hay with 
chairs, tables, and settees, and a shade never was upon his face, 
except that of the descending green curtain at the end of the 
comedy. Records of a Stage Veteran. 

One of the most delightful performers of his class, and 
famous to the last for his invincible airiness and juvenility. 
Mr. Lewis displayed a combination rarely to be found in 
acting, that of the fop and the real gentleman. With a voice, 
a manner, and a person all equally graceful and light, and 
features at once whimsical and genteel, he played on the top of 
his profession like a plume. He was the Mercutio of the age, 
in every sense of the word mercurial. His airy, breathless 
voice, thrown to the audience before he appeared, was the 
signal of his winged animal spirits ; and when he gave a glance 
of his eye, or touched his fingers at another's ribs, it was the 
verypunctum saliens of playfulness and innuendo. We saw him 
take leave of the public a man of sixty-five, looking not more 
than half the age, in the character of the Copper Captain, and 
heard him say in a voice broken by emotion that " For the 
space of thirty years he had not once incurred their dis- 
pleasure." Leigh Hunt, " The Town." 



2IO 

John Quick. 
1748-1831. 

He is a pleasant little fellow, and barring that he plays my 
business I wish his stay with us was much longer. He has not 
an atom of improper consequence in his composition. Charles 
Mathews. 

Little Quick (the retired Dioclesian of Islington), with his 
squeak like a Bart'lemew fiddle. Ibid. 

Many who never saw the original Vortex (" Cure for the 
Heartache") and the great Silky on the stage, may yet remember 
old Quick the octogenarian, with his blue coat and basket- 
buttons, his snow-white waistcoat, black knee-breeches, silk 
stockings, shoes and buckles, the latter being on the Sabbath 
both at knee and instep of diamonds or paste. Quick was 
a great favourite with George III. ; but his acting went out of 
fashion when a more intellectual school appeared. Munden 
knew little, but Quick knew less ; noise and extravagance were 
with him substituted for nature and humour. There is a print 
often in the old picture shops, of Humphreys and Mendoza 
sparring, and a queer angular exhibition it is. What that is to 
the modern art of pugilism, Quick's style of acting was to 
Dowton's ; the latter rounded off the square corners of Quick's 
old men, and brought them nearer if not quite to the standard 
of truth and nature. Quick quitted the stage in disgust ; when 
he left it he was as capable as he had been for the twenty 
years previous, and twenty years afterwards he remained as 
capable as when he left. He drank freely, sometimes six or 
seven glasses of rum and water in the evening after dining; 
and he had in his old age a fancy for all the old houses about 
his retreat (Pentonville). Quick loved to sit and talk of 
Garrick and Goldsmith, and what the dramatist said to him 
(Quick) when he enacted Tony Lumpkin on the first night of 
the production of " She Stoops to Conquer." One of Quick's 
laments was the non-observance of a promise implied to him 
by George III. In the early part of that monarch's reign, Quick 
was walking in the park with his infant daughter, when the 
King, escorted by his Horseguards, came through ; the child, 
alarmed at the noise and the appearance of the military, ran 
from her father, and attempting to get through the rails got 



John Quick. 2 1 1 

fastened between them. Her screams and her father's en- 
deavours to extricate her, attracted the notice of his Majesty ; 
the carriage was stopped, and the actor presently heard an ex- 
clamation, " Quick ! Quick ! Quick ! what's the matter ? head 
through the rails bad that very bad gently, gently, Quick !" 
Whether in consequence of this advice or not, the child's caput 
was extracted, and she stood weeping and curtseying 
before her sovereign. " Good girl don't cry, don't cry be a 
good girl, and you shall be a maid of honour when you are 
old enough." So saying his Majesty returned to his carriage. 
This, which was a mere passing word to appease a crying 
child, Quick treasured as a sacred promise, and to his latest 
hour regretted that he had never had an opportunity of getting 
King George alone, in which case, he said, " she would have 
been maid of honour, and I whatever his Majesty pleased to 
make me." Quick was one of the vainest of a vain race. He 
believed in no living actor but himself. The dead he lauded 
indiscriminately (except Foote, of whom he equally disliked to 
speak or hear), and the mere mention of the name of a new 
performer playing one of his original characters would make 
him silent for the evening. Quick's great parts were Isaac, 
Tony Lumpkin, Spado (" Castle of Andalusia") ; Lapoche 
(" Fontainebleau") ; and Sir Christopher Curry (" Inkle and 
Yarico"). The part that first brought him into notice was 
J) t-ii it Mordecai, in which he appeared as far back as the year 
1770. Records of a Stage Veteran. 

The favourite comedian of his late Majesty was Mr. Quick, 
an actor of very great and peculiar merits, and a most diligent 
and faithful servant of the public. Boaden. 

Quick, the comedian, one day passing through Broken Row, 
Moorfields, was seized upon by a touter of a furniture shop, 
who without ceremony pulled him in and began puffing off his 
chairs and tables. Quick being old and infirm made but little 
resistance, but asked the man if he were master of the shop ? 
"No, sir," said the touter, "but I will fetch him immediately." 
The man returned with his master, to whom he put the same 
question, "Are you the master of the shop?" "Yes, sir; 
what can I do for you?" "Only," replied Quick, "just to 
hold your man a minute while I go out." Ana. 

The celebrated comedian John Quick resided in Hornsey 
Row, subsequently Will's Row, Islington. He was born in 1 748, 
and left his father, a brewer in Whitechapel, when only fourteen 

P 2 



2 r 2 Ralph Wewitzer. 

years of age, to become an actor. He commenced his career at 
Fulham, where he performed the character of Altamont in the 
" Fair Penitent," which he personified so much to the satisfac- 
tion of the manager, that he desired his wife to set down 
young Quick a whole share, which at the close of the farce 
amounted to three shillings. In the counties of Kent and 
Surrey he acted with great success, and before he was eighteen 
performed Hamlet, Romeo, Richard, George Barnwell, Jaffier, 
Tancred, and many other characters in the higher walks of 
tragedy. In a few years he sufficiently distinguished himself 
as an actor of such versatile talents that he was engaged by 
Foote at the Haymarket Theatre in 1769, where he became 
a great favourite with George III., who, when visiting the 
theatre, always expected Quick to appear in a prominent 
character. He was the original Tony Lumpkin, Acres, and 
Isaac Mendoza, and after his appearance in these characters, he 
stood before the public as the Liston of the day. Mr. Quick 
may be considered one of the last of the Garrick school. In 
1798 he quitted the stage, after thirty-six years of its toils, and 
with the exception of a few nights at the Lyceum after the de- 
struction of Covent Garden Theatre, did not act again. He 
retired with io,ooo/. Up to the last day of his life he was in 
the habit of joining a respectable company which frequented 
the King's Head, opposite Islington Church, by whom he was 
recognised as president. Memoir of John Quick, 1832. 

Ralph Wewitzer. 1 
1749-1825. 

At obscure lodgings in Wild Passage, Drury Lane, under 
circumstances of peculiar distress, died Wewitzer the actor. He 
died indebted to his landlady i4/., the payment of which she 
never urged during his illness ; but after death, hearing that 
he had relations, she determined on having her money, or at 
least the value of it. A handsome coffin was provided, in 
which the remains of the unfortunate actor were deposited, 



1 Wewitzer as an actor is well spoken of by O'Keefe. " Wewitzer, n 
he says, who "performed one of these warriors, came out with a kind of 
grand extempore declaration, as if it was the original language of some of 
the islands. Wewitzer did this piece of pomposo wonderfully well." 






Ralph Wewitzer. 213 

and every arrangement made for the funeral, when the land- 
lady made her demand, and a man was placed in possession. 
Information was forwarded to one of his relations, and ulti- 
mately the body was taken from the coffin and conveyed in a 
shell to interment. He was a native of London, where he was 
brought up as a jeweller, which business he exchanged at an 
early period for the honours of an actor's life. Having got 
some experience in his new professional course, he at length 
made his debut at Covent Garden Theatre, as Ralph, in the 
opera of "The Maid of the Mill," which character he sustained 
for the benefit of his sister, who, about the year 1785 was held 
in some estimation both as an actress and singer. It may be 
observed, as something of a singularity, that his Christian name 
happened to be the same as that allotted to -his character in 
the piece. Wewitzer's exertions were crowned with success, 
and indicated so much promise of utility in his profession that 
he was engaged by the house, where he soon distinguished 
himself in the representation of Jews and Frenchmen. He 
next repaired to Dublin for a short time, under the manage- 
ment of Ryder, and on his return he resumed his situation at 
Covent Garden : here he remained till, unfortunately, he was 
induced to undertake the management of the Royalty Theatre ; 
but, on the failure of that concern, he became a member of 
the Drury Lane company, with which he continued to perform 
till the close of his theatrical career. He played at the Hay- 
market Theatre for several seasons ; and he is also said to 
have been the inventor of some pantomimes. He had, speak- 
ing of him as an individual, no indifferent share of companion- 
able qualities ; for at one time, by happy turns and a cordial 
vein of humour, he managed to keep the table in a roar. He 
died quite calmly at the advanced age of seventy-six, and was 
in his latter years an annuitant on the Covent Garden Theatrical 
Fund. New Monthly Magazine, 1825. 

The late R. Wewitzer sent the following letter to Mr. W. 
West, the popular comedian of the Haymarket Theatre, who 
had promised to give Ralph the copy of an address recited by 
the wife of the latter gentleman at Drury Lane Theatre, on the 
death of George III., together with two others spoken on the 
same occasion. Mr. West having neglected his promise re- 
ceived the following epistle : 

" Young West, 
You'd best 



214 John Edwin. 

Send me 
Odes three, 
Printed or writ, sir, 
To yours, Wewitzer." 

Mr. Wewitzer being asked how old he was, gravely replied, 
" I do not remember indeed when I was born." 

One of the performers being absent and no intelligence to be 
obtained where he was, the prompter said that he must be 
fined. " Ay," cries Wewitzer, " but before he \sjined he must 
\>Q found." 

Two of the doorkeepers were tossing a halfpenny for a pot 
of beer, when one of them called for a head, when lo ! it was a 
tail. "Ah," said Wewitzer, who was at his elbow, "you 
always want a head." 

One of the scene-shifters having vexed Mr. Wewitzer, Mr. 
W. raised his foot and kicked him. The man, highly provoked, 
declared that in all his life he was never kicked before. " Very 
possibly," said W. ; " but I daresay you have been kicked 
behind." Theatrical Anecdotes? 

John Edwin. 
1750-1790. 

There are sufficient documents of his being the best burletta 
singer that ever had been, or perhaps ever will be ; and of his 
obligations to O'Keefe, and of O'Keefe's to him, through the 
superiority of author and actor. What has not yet been 
observed of him is, that nature in gifting him with the vis 
comica, had dealt towards him differently from low comedians in 
general ; for she had enabled him to look irresistibly funny, 
with a very agreeable if not handsome set of features ; and 
while he sung in a style which produced roars of laughter, 
there was a melody in some of the upper tones of his voice 
that was beautiful. There was no medium in his performance 
of the various characters allotted to him ; he was either 
excellent or execrable ; and it might be said of his acting, as my 
father in one of his farces makes a gourmand remark upoi 
Shakspeare's writing, " it was like turtle; the lean of it might 



1 Much has been said of Wewitzer's wit. The reader will be able to 
judge of its quality by the above. ED. 



John Edwin. 2 1 5 

perhaps be worse than the lean of any other meat ; but there 
was a quantity of green fat about it which was delicious." 
George Colnian. 

Many performers before and since the days of Edwin have 
acquired the power, by private winks, irrelevant buffoonery, and 
dialogue to make their fellow-players laugh, and thus confound 
the audience and mar the scene. Edwin, disdaining this 
confined and distracting system, established a sort of entre nous- 
ship with the audience, and made them his confidents ; and 
though wrong in his principle, yet so neatly and skilfully did he 
execute it, that instead of injuring the business of the stage he 
frequently enriched it the only possible excuse for "your 
clown speaking more than is set down for him." F. Reynolds. 

Edwin told me that his method was when he got a new part 
to study to turn it about and about, as an artist drawing from a 
bust, in order to find the points which might give him most 
power over his audience. The part of Tipple in the " Flitch ot 
Bacon " first introduced him to public favour. O'Kcefe. 

Edwin was one of the most extraordinary actors of low 
comedy that the stage had ever possessed. Henderson at 
least, a competent evidence declared that in dumb action, a 
vciy difficult art of the drama, he had never seen him equalled. 
In Sir Hugh Evans, when preparing for the duel, he had seen 
him keep the house in an ecstasy of merriment for many 
minutes together, without speaking a single word. Edwin was 
another of the theatrical examples which, with competence and 
enjoyment within their grasp, prefer living in discomfort and 
dying in beggary. He enfeebled his powers by excess of 
brandy, until he died degraded, and worn with disease. Yet 
his powers were originally so strong that even his excesses 
could scarcely impair his popularity. To the last he was an 
universal favourite ; and when he died, men looked round the 
stage, in doubt where they were to find a successor. Black- 
wood 's Magazine, 1839. 

Alas, poor Edwin ! I knew him intimately. He was a choice 
actor, and a pleasant club companion. His career was short 
and brilliant; it was a firework a sort of squib bright, 
dazzling, sputtering, and off with a pop. John Bannister. 

Edwin's Tipple (in the " Flitch of Bacon ") was an exquisite 
treat. Had he but imitated the habit which christened him, he 
might long have continued the most diverting creature that the 
modern stage has known. Boaden. 



2 1 6 Henry Johnston. 

Our ancestors, down to a time as late as our grandfathers, 
certainly tolerated liberties taken with an audience by actors 
with a leniency that is more surprising, as the manners of the 
time were ruder and the customs of a very ruffianly character. 
There are still individuals living who may have seen Edwin. 
At the close of his career, Edwin was playing Bowkit in the 
" Son-in-Law " at the Haymarket. In the scene where Cranky 
declines to accept him as a son-in-law on account of his ugliness, 
Edwin uttered the word " ugly ?" in a tone of surprise, and then 
advancing to the lamps, said with great coolness and infinite 
impudence, " Now I submit to the decision of an enlightened 
British public which is the ugliest fellow of the three I, old 
Cranky, or that gentleman in the front row of the balcony box ?" 
The gentleman became the object, not of general pity, but of 
general and loud derision, and he retreated hastily from the 
humiliating consequences of the actor's impertinence. Corn- 
hill Magazine, 1867. 

Henry Johnston. 
Circa 1750. 

Henry Johnston was born in Edinburgh, and had for his 
godfather the celebrated Lord Erskine, 1 who took charge of 
his education, after whom he was called, Henry Erskine 
Johnston. At this period the tragedy of " Douglas" was very 
popular ; and as Johnston had decided on making the stage 
his profession, he selected Young Norval as his maiden 
attempt in his native city. His youthful appearance, being 
scarcely eighteen, graceful form, and handsome, expressive 
countenance, won for him the universal approbation of his 



1 Of Erskine, Lord Cockburn, in his "Life of Jeffrey," says : "A tall 
and rather slender figure, a face sparkling with vivacity, and a general 
suffusion of elegance, gave him a striking and pleasing appearance. He 
was nearly the same in private as in public ; the presence of only a few 
friends never diminishing his animation, nor that of the largest audience 
his naturalness. No boisterousness ever vulgarized, no effort ever encum- 
bered his aerial gaiety. Though imposing no restraint upon himself, but 
always yielding fresh to the radiant spirit within him, his humour was 
rendered delightful by its gentleness and safety. Too good-natured for 
arcasm when he was compelled to expose, there was such an obvious 
absence of all desire to give pain, that the very person against whom his 
laughing darts were directed generally thought the wounds compensated by 
the mirth and the. humanity of the cuts. " 



r 

1 



Henry Johnston. 2 1 7 

countrymen. Previous to this the noble shepherd was dressed 
in the trews and Scotch jacket; but when Johnston appeared 
in full Highland costume, in kilt, breastplate, shield, claymore, 
and bonnet, the whole house rose, and such a reception was 
never witnessed within the walls of a provincial theatre 
before. The reverend author, Mr. Home, 1 was present ; and 
at the conclusion of the tragedy, publicly pronounced Johnston 
the beau ideal of his conception. There can be no doubt ot 
this, as all who have attempted this beautifully drawn 
character have egregiously failed in producing the effects 
which Johnston brought forth. W. Donaldson. 

As a melodramatist he was of much consequence. As 
Young Norval, Johnston had long been admired in the 
country of Home. In spectacle he was first-rate. Boadcn. 

Harry Johnston, who used to be "the biggest boy in the 
world," had an odd style of imitating persons' manner, gait, 
and gesture, without attempting their voices. No one who had 
not seen him do it could imagine anything so ludicrous as his 
representation of how the principal actors would play 
Harlequin. The fervent lightness of Lewis; the elephantic 
ponderosity of Cooke ; and the solemn saltatory efforts of 
Kemble, were irresistible ; he generally ended this display by 
a jump a la Ellar. On one occasion, when a knot of actors 
and their friends were dining at Greenwich, in the house 
looking into the Park, he gave this performance, and con- 
cluded by a lion's leap out of the window, which, as they 
were in the parlour, was only four or five feet from the ground, 
The laugh, the song, and the bottle went round, and in 
another hour the party adjourned upstairs to the first floor, as 
the numbers having increased, we should have been confined 
below. Some of our recent visitors were anxious to hear 
Johnston's imitations again. Harry complied, and set every- 
body screaming at his pantomimical portraits of Holman, Suett, 
Pope, &c. Elated with the hilarity of his hearers, he wound 
up as before in the style of a veritable pantomimist, and, for- 



1 John Home, the author of "Douglas," was born in 1724. In the 
rebellion of 1745, being in the Royal army, he was taken prisoner at 
the battle of Falkirk. He escaped, and in 1 750 was ordained minister of 
Athelstaneford, in East Lothian. On the production of " Douglas," finding 
thp Presbytery greatly incensed at a minister writing for the stage, he 
resigned his living. He died in j8o8, p. 



2 1 8 Jack Johnstone. 

getting where he was, jumped through the window, and 
of course fell full sixteen feet into the Park. Providentially no 
bones were broken ; but poor Harry received a shock that none 
but a strong constitution could ever have recovered. Records 
of a Stage Veteran. 

Jack Johnstone. 
1750-1828. 

Of all the popular men in London Jack Johnstone was more 
courted and favoured than any other, not only on account of 
his nationality, but in consequence of his unapproachable 
talent in either the Irish gentleman or the peasant. His rich 
and delicious singing, and his agreeable and social manners, 
gained the hearts of gentle and simple in his native city. 
There have been many excellent actors in the low Irishman, 
but there has been only one comedian that could delineate the 
refined Irish gentleman, and enter into the genuine unsophis- 
ticated humour of a son of the Emerald Isle with equal talent. 
Walter Donaldson. 

John Johnstone, in whom the Irish character was certainly 
somewhat refined, but who taught our dramatists quite enough 
for their use namely, all that was pleasant. Rock and others 
rendered it vulgar ; whereas Johnstone made it sparkle with 
humour, and in either blunder or mischance, anger or jest, 
uniformly delightful. Boaden. 

Jack Johnstone was very proud of his patrician acquain- 
tances ; and as the Prince of Wales was partial to his Irish 
ballads, he was a constant member of the jovial societies of the 
year 1790 and thereabouts. Suett inflated poor Johnstone 
with the hyperbolical praises that he vowed the Prince had 
lavished on his singing ; whilst he amused Johnstone's asso- 
ciates with very different accounts. Johnstone had one note 
(E in Alt), which he took very clearly in his falsetto. It was 
his delight to dwell on that tone an unconscionable time ; so 
much so, that Suett told Erskine that the Prince once coming 
into his box whilst Johnstone was at his favourite exercise, 
turned to his friend and said, " I verily believe he has held 
that note ever since we were here last" the Prince having 
been, the week previous, according to Suett, driven out of the 
theatre by " Paddy's protracted howl." Records of a Sfagt 
Veteran. 



y<zck Johnston*. 2 1 9 

Tic was born at Tipperary, the son of a small but respect- 
able fanner, having a large family. At the early age of 
eighteen he enlisted into a regiment of Irish dragoons, then 
stationed at Clonmel, commanded by Colonel Brown. Being 
smitten with the charms of a neighbouring farmer's daughter, 
Johnstone used to scale the barrack wall after his comrades had 
retired to their quarters, for the purpose of serenading his 
mistress, having a remarkably sweet and flexible voice. He 
always returned, however, and was ready at parade the follow- 
ing morning. He was much esteemed throughout the regiment 
for a native lively turn of mind and peculiarly companionable 
qualities. Two of his comrades (who had found out the 
secret of his nocturnal visitations) scaled the wall after him, 
and discovered him on his knee singing a plaintive Irish ditty 
beneath the window of his inamorata. They returned to 
quarters instanter, and were quickly followed by Johnstone. 
The sergeant of the company to which he belonged eventually 
became acquainted with the circumstance, but never apprized 
the Colonel of the fact. Shortly after Colonel Brown had a 
party of particular friends dining with him, whom he was most 
anxious to entertain. He inquired what soldier throughout 
the regiment had the best voice, and the palm of merit was 
awarded by the sergeant-major to Johnstone. The Colonel 
sent for him, and he attended the summons, overwhelmed with 
apprehension that his absence from quarters had reached his 
commander's ears. He was soon relieved, however, on this 
point, and attended the party at the time appointed. The 
first song he sung was a hunting one, which obtained much 
applause, although he laboured under extreme trepidation. 
The Colonel said that he had heard he excelled in Irish 
melodies, and bade Johnstone sing one of his favourite love 
songs. His embarrassment increased at this order, but after 
taking some refreshment, he sang the identical ditty with which 
he had so often serenaded his mistress in such a style of 
pathos, feeling, and taste, as perfectly enraptured his auditors. 
Having completely regained his self-possession, he delighted 
the company with several other songs, all which received un- 
qualified approbation. The next day Colonel Brown sent for 
him and sounded his inclination for the stage. Johnstone ex- 
pressed his wishes favourably on the point, but hinted the 
extreme improbability of his success from want of experience 
and musical knowledge. The Colonel overcame his objections, 



22O Jack Johnstone. 

and granted him his discharge, with a highly recommendatory 
letter to his particular friend Mr. Ryder, then manager of the 
Dublin theatre, who engaged Johnstone at two guineas a week 
for three years, which, after his first appearance in Lionel, was 
immediately raised to four (a high salary at that time in 
Dublin). His fame as a vocalist gathered like a snowball, 
and he performed the whole range of young singing lovers with 
pre-eminent eclat. Our hero next formed a matrimonial alliance 
with a Miss Poitier, daughter of Colonel Poitier, who had then 
the command of the military depot at Kilmainham gaol. This 
lady being highly accomplished, and possessing a profound 
knowledge of music, imparted to her husband the arcana of 
the science, and made him a finished singer. Macklin, having 
the highest opinion of Johnstone's talent, advised him to try 
the metropolitan boards, wrote a letter to Mr. Thomas Harris, 
of Covent Garden, who, on the arrival of Johnstone and his 
wife, immediately engaged them for three years, at a weekly 
salary of i4/., i6/., and i8/. Johnstone made his first appear- 
ance in London the 3rd of October, 1783, in his old character 
of Lionel, and made a complete hit fully sustaining the ten 
years' reputation he had acquired on the Dublin stage. After 
remaining several years at Covent Garden, and finding his 
voice not improving with time, he formed the admirable policy 
of taking to Irish parts, which were then but very inadequately 
filled. His success was beyond example his native humour, 
rich brogue, and fine voice for Irish ditties carried all before 
him. In fact, he was the only actor who could personate 
with the utmost effect both the patrician and plebeian Irishman. 
He next performed at the Haymarket, being one of those who 
remonstrated with the proprietors of Covent Garden in 1801 
against their new regulations. In 1803 he visited his friends 
in Dublin, where, martial law being then in force, on account 
of Emmett's rebellion, the company performed in the day-time. 
On his return to London his wife died, and he afterwards 
married Miss Boulton, the daughter of a wine-merchant, by 
whom he had Mrs. Wallack, who with her children succeed 
to the bulk of his large property. In the records of the stage 
no actor ever approached Johnstone in Irish characters. Sir 
Lucius O' Trigger, Callaghan O'Brallaghan, Major O' Flaherty, 
Teague, Tully (the Irish gardener), and Dennis Bmlgntddery, 
were portrayed by him in the most exquisite colours. In 
fact, they stood alone for felicity of nature and original men 






Mrs. Hartley. 221 

Mr. Johnstone's remains were interred in a vault under the 
church of St. Paul, Covent Garden, near the eastern angle of 
the church. New Monthly Magazine, 1829. 

In 1803 Jack Johnstone, afterwards so well known as Irish 
Johnstone, added to the attractions of the Drury Lane com- 
pany. Twenty years before, when a very young man, he had 
appeared on the stage in London, and having a fine voice was 
a promising performer of opera. The talent by which he was 
to be distinguished seems to have been utterly concealed from 
himself. How it came to be discovered he used thus to tell : 
" He was one morning in the green-room when Macklin came 
in ; the actors crowded round him. Fixing his eyes on John- 
stone, he bid him come to breakfast next morning. On going 
he found the old man with the manuscript of ' Love a la 
Mode' in his hand. ' Read that, sir,' says he, marking out the 
part of Sir Callaghan OBrallaghan. When the reader ex- 
pressed his admiration, ' You shall play it, sir,' said the author. 
Johnstone made many excuses, but was forced to give way. His 
Irish talent was developed by success, and in it he was un- 
rivalled to the end of his days." Blackwood's Magazine, 1839. 

Mrs. Hartley. 
1751-1824. 

A finer creature I never saw. Her make is perfect. 
Garrick. 

She is a very good figure, with a handsome, small face, and 
very much freckled ; her hair red, and her neck and shoulders 
\\ell turned. There is no harmony in her voice; but when 
forced (which she never fails to do on the least occasion) is 
loud and strong, but an inarticulate gabble. She is ignorant 
and stubborn. She talks lusciously, and has a slovenly good 
nature about her that renders her prodigiously vulgar. Moody. 

The most severe satirist who bestows one look on Mrs. 
Hartley must be instantly disarmed, and turn all his censure to 
panegyric. The calm and lovely innocence of Lady Touchwood 
could by nobody be so happily represented as by this actress, 
who is celebrated for her artless exhibition of the distress of the 
unhappy Shore and the beautiful Elfrida. T. Davies. 

She was tall and striking in her figure, and had golden hair. 
It was for this woman that Smith, of Drury Lane, at his 



222 Mrs. Hartley. 

maturity, made a fool of himself deserted his wife, with the 
greatest respect for her all the time, and like a green boy, 
would have given up the whole world, as he told Garrick, 
"rather than desert his Rose." Boadcn? 

Her lovely face, and lithe, tall, delicate figure, had rapidly won 
for her the leading place at Covent Garden in such parts of tender 
tragedy as Jatie Shore, and the puling heroines of Murphy's 
Alzuma and Mason's Elfrida. She was no actress, but her 
beauty for a time (as Moody had prophesied) stood her in 
stead of genius. She had that golden auburn hair which the 
early Italian painters loved, and those blonde colours which 
have always, I think, exercised most power of witchery on 
men. She sat to Sir Joshua very soon after her first success. 
When he paid her a compliment on her beauty, she turned it 
laughingly off : " Nay, my face may be well enough for shape, 
but sure 'tis as freckled as a toad's belly." Leslie's "Life of 
Reynolds" 

She is one of the most beautiful women I ever saw, and the 
finest figure, but has not a good voice. James Northcote. 

Lately, at Woolwich, aged seventy-three, the once beautiful 
and admired actress, Mrs. Hartley. She was a contemporary 
with Garrick, and we believe the only one that remained, ex- 
cepting Mr. Quick and Mrs. Mattocks, who are still alive. 
Her extreme beauty, and the truth and nature of her acting, 
attracted universal admiration, and caused her to rank the 
highest, as a female, in her profession, previous to the appear- 
ance of Mrs. Siddons. Mr. Hull had written his tragedy 
of " Henry II., or Fair Rosamond," several years pre- 
vious to its production, and despaired of obtaining a proper 
representative for the character of Rosamond until the above 
lady appeared. Mason, the poet, also wrote his well-known 
tragedy of " Elfrida," that she might personify the principal 
character. " Elfrida" has always been admired as a beautiful 
poem, but is not calculated for stage effect ; it was nevertheless 
at that time supported, and even rendered highly attractive, by 



1 " The author could not have wished a more perfect form and face than 
this lady displayed upon the stage. When I look back and around me for 
anything to reflect her to those who have never seen her, I am obliged to 
Bay that the exquisite portrait by Sir Joshua did not do her entire justice, 
and that at last we must refer to the images of ripened beauty and modest 
dignity with which the perhaps flattering portraits of her poets delighted to 
exhibit the person of the VIRGIN QUEEN." Boaden. 






Miss Lin ley. 223 

the person and talents of Mrs. Hartley. She was a very 
favourite subject of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and appears as the 
beautiful female in a number of his most celebrated pictures. 
Two in particular are professed portraits of her, called " Mrs. 
Hartley as Jane Shore," and " Mrs. Hartley as a Bacchante." 
A fine study for the former was recently sold at the celebrated 
sale of the Marchioness of Thomond's pictures, at Christie's. 
She died in easy circumstances, her merits during her public 
services having procured her a comfortable independence. 
New Monthly Magazine, 1824. 

Miss Linley 1 (Mrs. Sheridan.) 
1754-1792. 

Among those who sang, not only at the oratorios at Bath, but 
who had gained a high reputation in all musical circles, was 
Miss Linley, the daughter of the eminent composer, upon whom 
nature seemed to have lavished her richest treasures, and art to 
have nobly seconded her. Miss Linley was beyond a doubt 
one of the most accomplished and most beautiful women ever 
seen. Life of Sheridan, Bohn's Edition. 

To see her as she stood singing beside me at the pianoforte 
was like looking into the face of an angel. Jackson of 
Exeter? 

There has seldom perhaps existed a finer combination of all 
those qualities that attract both eye and heart than this 



1 She married Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The story of their courtship 
is a romance too worn to be re-told. After Sheridan had married her, he 
would not let her sing in public. "We talked," says Boswell, "of a 
young gentleman's marriage with an eminent singer, and his determination 
that she should no longer sing in public, though his father was very earnest 
she should, because her talents would be liberally rewarded. It was ques- 
tioned whether the young gentleman, who had not a shilling in the world, 
but was blest with very uncommon talents, was not foolishly delicate or 
foolishly proud, and his father truly rational without being mean. John- 
son, with all the high spirit of a Roman senator, exclaimed, * He resolved 
wisely and nobly, to be sure. He is a brave man. Would not a gentle- 
man be disgraced by having his wife singing publicly for hire ? No, sir, 
there can be no doubt here.' " 

a William Jackson, invariably called Jackson of Exeter, was born in that 
city in 1730. He was the composer of several beautiful canzonets and 
sonatas, and the author of a treatise "On the Present State of Music." 
He died 1804. ED. 



Miss Lin ley. 

accomplished and lovely person exhibited. To judge by what 
we hear it was impossible to see her without admiration, or 
know her without love ; and a late Bishop used to say that 
" she seemed to him the connecting link between woman and 
angel." The devotedness of affection, too, with which she was 
regarded, not only by her own father and sisters, but by all her 
husband's family, showed that her fascination was of that 
best kind which, like charity, " begins at home ;" and that 
while her beauty and music enchanted the world, she had 
charms more intrinsic and lasting for those who came nearer to 
her. Thomas Moore. 

Hers was truly " a voice as of the cherub choir," and she 
tvas always ready to sing without any pressing. She sung here 
a great deal, and to my infinite delight ; but what had a 
peculiar charm was, that she used to take my daughter, then a 
child, on her lap, and sing a number of childish songs with such 
a playfulness of manner, and such a sweetness of look and 
voice as was quite enchanting. Rogers's " Correspondence" 

Her exquisite and delicate loveliness, all the more fascinating 
for the tender sadness which seemed, as a contemporary 
describes it, to project over her the shadow of early death ; 
her sweet voice, and the pathetic expression of her singing, the 
timid and touching grace of her air and deportment, had won 
universal admiration for Eliza Ann Linley. From the days 
when, a girl of nine, she stood with her little basket at the 
pump-room door, timidly offering the tickets for her father's 
benefit concerts, to those when, in her teens, she was the belle 
of the Bath assemblies, none could resist her beseeching grace. 
Lovers and wooers flocked about her ; Richard Walter Long, 
the Wiltshire miser, laid his thousands at her feet. Even 
Foote, when he took the story of Miss Linley's rejection of that 
sordid old hunks as the subject of his " Maid at Bath," in 1770, 
laid no stain of his satirical brush on her. Nor had she resisted 
only the temptation of money : coronets it was whispered had 
been laid at her feet as well as money. When she appeared at 
the Oxford oratorios, grave dons and young gentlemen 
commoners were alike subdued. In London, where she sang 
at Covent Garden, in the Lent of 1773, the King himself is said 
to have been as much fascinated by her eyes and voice as by 
the music of his favourite Handel. Leslie's "Life of Reynolds" 

I own I prefer Mrs. Sheridan before Miss Harrop, and indeed 
before any singer I ever heard, even to this moment ; but this 






Mrs. Siddons. 225 

is no ill compliment to Miss Harrop, because charming 
and exquisite as they were, her talents were confined to 
concert singing. The talents of Mrs. Sheridan, had the 
experiment been made, would have been found to have been 
universal ; but the public was not so far to be obliged. Those 
\\lio lu\v iK-ver heard Mrs. Sheridan can be no more able to 
conceive the force and effect of her merit than I can be 
capable of describing it. I can easily make it understood that, 
if she was possessed of every perfection and free from every 
fault as a singer, she must have been superior to every other 
but this is theory : the practical part of the argument cannot 
be fi-lt but by those who were fortunate enough to hear her, 
who, if they have any recollection, and will take the trouble to 
repeat Milton's passage, uttered by Com:ts immediately after he 
has heard the lady sing "Sweet Echo," they will find their 
sensations were at that time delighted equal to that description, 
for indeed " she took the prisoned soul and lapped it in 
elysium." Charles Dibdiris " History of the Stage." 

Mrs. Siddons. 
1755-1831. 

Of actors Cooke was the most natural, Kemble the most 
supernatural, Kean the medium between the two. But Mrs. 
Siddons was worth them all put together. Byron, 

Mrs. Siddons in her visit to me behaved with great propriety 
and modesty, and left nothing behind her to be censured or 
despised. Neither praise nor money, the two powerful corruptors 
of mankind, seem to have depraved her. Dr. Johnson. 

Is it not worth something to have seen Mrs. Siddons in her 
days of magnificence Mrs. Siddons, who has lent to the very 
syllables of her name an elevation and a charm so strong that no 
effort of mind could now effect their separation so strong, that 
none who saw her in the splendour of her meridian ever 
pronounced that name without a tone and a manner more 
softened and raised than their habitual discourse ? She some- 
times gave vitality to a line which stamped it for ever, while all 
surrounding recollections have faded away. I remember her 
saying to a servant who had betrayed her, in some play no 
longer acted 

'* There's gold for thee ; but see my face no more." 
Q 



226 Mrs. Siddons. 

I am sorry that this is the moment in which she comes most 
strongly on my recollection. I wish it had been in one of 
Shakspeare's plays ; but so it is. There is no giving an 
adequate impression of the might, the majesty of grace she 
possessed, nor of the effect on a young heart of the deep and 
mysterious tones of her voice. Kemble as Coriolanus, when 
she was Vblumnia, equalled the highest hopes of acting. 
Mrs. R. Trench, "Remains? 1822. 

After she left the stage Mrs. Siddons, from the want of 
excitement, was never happy. When I was sitting with her of 
an afternoon she would say, " Oh dear ! this is the time I used 
to be thinking of going to the theatre ; first came the pleasure 
of dressing for my part, and then the pleasure of acting it ; but 
that is all over now." When a grand public dinner was given 
to John Kemble on his quitting the stage, Mrs. Siddons said to 
me, " Well, perhaps in the next world women will be more 
valued than they are in this." She alluded to the comparatively 
little sensation which had been produced by her own retirement 
from the boards, and doubtless she was a far, far greater 
performer than John Kemble. Combe 1 recollected having seen 
Mrs. Siddons, when a very young woman, standing by the side 
of her father's stage, and knocking a pair of snuffers against a 
candlestick, to imitate the sound of a windmill, during the 
representation of some Harlequin piece. 2 S. Rogers, " Table 
Talk." 

1 Combe, the author of " Dr. Syntax." ED. 

* One night, when Mrs. Siddons had occasion to drain "the poisoned 
cup," a ruffian bawled out, to the overthrow of all order in the rest of the 
house, " That's right, Molly ; soop it up, ma lass." Once during her en- 
gagement, the evening being hot, Mrs. Siddons was tempted by a torturing 
thirst to avail herself of the only relief to be obtained at the moment. 
Her dresser, therefore, despatched a boy in great haste to ' ' fetch a pint of 
beer for Mrs. Siddons. " Meanwhile the play proceeded, and on the boy's 
return with the frothed pitcher, he looked about for the person who had 
sent him on his errand, and not seeing her, inquired, "Where is Mrs. 
Siddons ?" The scene-shifter whom he questioned, pointing his ringer to 
the stage, where she was performing the sleeping-scene of Lady Macbeth, 
replied, "There she is." To the horror of the performers, the bo 
promptly walked on to the stage close up to Mrs. Siddons, and with a tote 
unconsciousness of any impropriety, presented the porter ! Her distre 
may be imagined ; she waved the boy away in her grand manner sevei 
times without effect. At last the people behind the scenes, by dint 
beckoning, stamping, &c., succeeded in getting him off with the beer, 
while the audience were in an uproar of laughter, which the dignity of tl 
actress was unable to quell for several minutes. Life of Mathews. 



Mrs. Siddons. 227 

If you ask me, What is a queen ? I should say. Mrs. Siddons. 
Tate Wilkinson. 

I have some reason to believe that Mrs. Siddons was 
addicted to drollery. As a proof of this she was very fond in 
private society of singing with tristful countenance the 
burlesque song called " JJilly Taylor;" and I will venture the 
.issrrtion from many evidences that both Mrs. Siddons and 
Mr. John Kemble had a bias, I may say a great leaning, towards 
comedy. Mr. Kemble, everybody knows, harboured an intention 
(a. serious intention I may call it) of performing Falstoff" not long 
before his retirement, and rehearsed it several times. Happily 
for his reputation the idea was abandoned. Mrs. C. Mathews. 

She was an actress who never had had an equal, nor would 
ever have a superior. Henderson? 

I remember her coming down the stage in the triumphal 
entry of her son Coriolanus, when her dumb-show drew plaudits 
that shook the house. She came alone, marching and beating 
time to the music ; rolling (if that be not too strong a term to 
describe her motion) from side to side, swelling with the 
triumph of her son. Such was the intoxication of joy which 
flashed from her eye, and lit up her whole face, that the effect 
was irresistible. She seemed to me to reap all the glory of that 
procession to herself. I could not take my eye from her. 
Coriolanus, banner, and pageant, all went for nothing to me 
after she had left her place. C. Young* 



1 The actor. ED. 

2 Mr. Young, the actor, related to me an instance of her power in the 
part of Mrs, Beverley over his own feelings. He was acting Beverley with 
her on the Edinburgh stage, and they had proceeded as far as the fourth 
scene in the fifth act, when Beverley has swallowed the poison, and when 
Bates comes in and says to the dying sufferer, " Jarvis found you quarrelling 
with Lawson in the streets last night." Mrs. B 'ever -ley says, "No, I am 
sure he did not," to which Jarvis replies, " Or if I did?" meaning, it may 
be supposed, to add, " the fault was not with my master ;" but the moment 
he utters the words "Or if I did?" Mrs. Beverley exclaims, " 'Tis false, 
old man ! They had no quarrel there was no cause for quarrel /" In 
uttering this Mrs. Siddons caught hold of Jarvis, and gave the exclamation 
with such piercing grief, that Mr. Young said his throat swelled, and his 
utterance was choked. He stood unable to speak the few words which as 
Beverley he ought immediately to have delivered. The pause lasted long 
enough to make the prompter several times repeat Beverley's speech, till 
Mrs. Siddons, coming up to her fellow actor, put the tips of her fingers on 
his shoulder, and said, in a low voicGj "Mr. Young, recollect yourself."" 
Campbell" s "Life of Siddons." 



228 Mr 3. Siddons. 

\^ Her performance was a school for oratory ; I had studied her 
cadences and intonation, and to the harmony of her periods 
and pronunciation I am indebted for my best displays. 
Lord Erskine. 

Her lofty beauty, her graceful walk and gesture, and her 

potent elocution, were endowments which at the first sight 

marked her supremacy on the stage. But it was not the 

classical propriety of a speech, nor the grandeur or pathos of a 

scene ; it was no individual or insulated beauty that we 

exclusively admired. These received their full portion of 

applause, and to many individuals might seem to exhaust the 

theme of her praise. But it was the high judgment which 

watched over all these qualifications, the equally vigilant 

sympathy which threw itself into the assumed character ; it was 

'j'her sustained understanding of her part, her self-devotion to it, 

/and her abstraction from everything else, and no casual bursts 

1 of effect, that riveted the experienced spectator's admiration. 

Thomas Campbell? 

The enthusiasm she excited had something idolatrous 
about it ; we can conceive nothing grander. She embodied, 
to our imaginations, the fables of mythology of the heroic and 
deified mortals of elder time. She was not less than a goddess 
or a prophetess inspired by the gods. Power was seated on 
her brow ; passion radiated from her breast as from a shrine ; 
she was Tragedy personified. Hazlitt. 



1 Her farewell performance was given on the 2Qth of June, 1812. The 
play was " Macbeth. " The crowd was immense. At the sleep-walking 
scene the excitement was so great that the audience stood on the benches, 
and demanded that the performance should end with that scene. The cur- 
tain was then dropped for twenty minutes. When it rose, Mrs. Siddons was 
discovered at a table dressed in white. She came forward, amidst a perfect 
thunderstorm of applause, which endured many moments. Silence being 
obtained, she recited an address, towards the conclusion of which, it is 
said, she exhibited deep emotion. The closing lines were : 

" Judges and friends, to whom the magic strain 
Of nature's feeling never spoke in vain, 
Perhaps your hearts, when years have glided by, 
And past emotions wake a fleeting sigh, 
May think on her whose lips have poured so long 
The charmed sorrows of your Shakspeare's song ; 
On her who, parting to return no more, 
Is now the mourner she but seem'd before : 
Herself subdu'd, resigns the melting spell, 

And breathes, with swelling heart, her long, her last Farewell." 



I 



Mrs. Siddons. 229 

She is a woman ot excellent character, and therefore I am 
glad she is thus patronized, since Mrs. Abington and so many 
frail fair ones have been thus noticed by the great. She 
behaved with great propriety, very calm, modest, quiet, and 
unaffected. She has a very fine countenance, and her eyes 
look both intelligent and soft. She has, however, a steadiness 
in her manner and deportment by no means engaging. Mrs. 
Thrale said, " Why, this is a leaden goddess we are "all wor- 
shipping ! However, we shall soon gild it." Miss Burney. 

Mrs. Siddons seemed always to throw herself on nature as a 
guide, and follow instantaneously what she suggested. R. B. 
Haydon? 

There never perhaps was a better stage figure than Mrs. 
Siddons. Hei height is above the middle size, but not at all in- 
clined to the embonpoint; there is, notwithstanding, nothing sharp 
or angular in the frame ; there is sufficient muscle to bestow a 
roundness upon the limbs, and her attitudes are, therefore, 
distinguished equally by energy and grace. The symmetry of 
her person is exact and captivating ; her face is peculiarly 
happy, the features being finely formed, though strong, and 
never for an instant seeming overcharged, like the Italian faces, 
nor coarse and unfeminine, under whatever impulse. On the 
contrary, it is so thoroughly harmonized when quiescent, and 
so expressive when impassioned, that most people think her 
more beautiful than she is. So great, too, is the flexibility of 
her countenance, that the rapid transitions of passion are given 
with a variety and effect that never tire upon the eye. Her 
voice is naturally plaintive, and a tender melancholy in her 
level speaking denotes a being devoted to tragedy ; yet this 
seemingly settled quality of voice becomes at will sonorous or 
piercing, overwhelms with rage, or in its wild shriek absolutely 
harrows up the soul. Her sorrow, too, is never childish ; her 
lamentation has a dignity which belongs, I think, to no other 
woman ; it claims your respect along with your tears. 
? 1782. 



1 Hay don found fault with her Lady Macbeth. "I fancied that Mrs. 
Siddons acted with very little force in the scene where she comes out, whea 
Macbeth is in Duncan's chamber, and says, ' That which hath made them 
drunk has made me bold.' She ought to have been in a blaze ..... I 
will not go again to see any of Shakspeare's plays ; you alwavs associate 
the characters with the actors." Haydon's "Autobiography." 

9 Mr. Siddons, her husband, is represented as an actor of grc.it versa- 



230 Mrs. Siddons. 

In the acting of Mrs. Siddons and John Kemble I re- 
member particularly (perhaps because it was somewhat un- 
expected) the grace with which they could descend from the 
stateliness of tragedy to the easy manner of familiar life. -The 
scene in which Mrs. Siddons, as Volumnia, sat sewing with 
Virgilia, and the subsequent scene with Valeria; and in 
" Hamlet," the manner in which John Kemble gave the con- 
versations with the players, were beautiful instances of this. 
These passages are not comic ; but both brother and sister, 
in giving them, indicated the perfection of genteel comedy. 
Perhaps it is the highest praise of such acting to say that it 
was truly Shakspearian, and made one feel, still more than in 
reading the plays, the value of such scenes. In the " Winter's 
Tale," also, the bye-play of Leontes with the child of Mamillius, 
while he was jealously watching Hermione and Polixenes, was 
marked by John Kemble with the same fine taste ; and the 
manner in which Mrs. Siddons, as Lady Macbeth, dismissed the 
guests from the banquet-scene has often been noticed among 
the minor beauties of her acting. After her retirement 
from the stage, she was fond of adverting to her theatrical 
career ; l and in a conversation on this subject she said to my 
friend Newton, " / was an honest actress, and at all times in all 
things endeavoured to do my best." Leslie's "Autobiography" 

No tragic actress, I believe, ever had such absolute dominion 
over her audience as Mrs. Siddons ; nor were her audiences 
common and indiscriminating, for in addition to a splendid 



lility, capable of acting through the whole range of Hamlet to Harlequin. 
He was, says Boaden, "when I knew him first, in the prime of life, a 
fair and very handsome man, sedate and graceful in his manners." Mrs. 
Siddons had a son, Henry Siddons, who became an actor. He is described 
as being deficient for the stage ' ' in his voice, form, and face. " The force 
of deficiency could hardly go further. The Stranger was the only character 
he personated with any degree of success. He married Miss Murray, an 
actress, by all accounts, of real genius. " Above all the actresses of that 
time," says an enthusiastic writer, "her demeanour was distinguished by 
that charm which sometimes has imparted power even to mediocrity, but 
which, when joined, as it was in her case, with the finest faculties, adds a 
perpetual power to genius, and ensures its resistless triumph. Mrs. Henry 
Siddons was in all things the perfect lady." 

1 "John Kemble's most familiar table-talk often flowed into blank verse, 
and so indeed did his sister's. Scott, who was a capital mimic, often 
repeated her tragical exclamation to a footboy during a dinner at A she- 
tiel : 

" ' You've brought me water, boy I asked for beer 1' " Lockhart. 






Mrs. Siddons. 231 

display of the principal rank and fashion of the period, I have 
frequently seen in the orchestra Burke, Windhum, and Sir 
Joshua Reynolds all testifying an equal admiration of her 
commanding talents. The late Mr. Harris used to say that 
he had more cause to praise and admire her than Sheridan 
himself ; for she brought as full houses to Covent Garden as to 
Drury Lane, though the former paid her no salary. The fact 
was, that on Mrs. Siddons's nights Mr. Harris (being sure of 
an overflow from Drury Lane) only put up his weakest bills, 
reserving the strongest for his off nights ; thus probably, at the 
end of the week, the average amount of the receipts was in 
his favour. Frederick Reynolds, " Autobiography? 

On before us tottered, rather than walked, a very pretty, delicate, 
fragile-looking creature, dressed in a most unbecoming manner 
in a faded salmon-coloured sack and coat, and uncertain 
whereabouts to fix either her eyes or her feet. She spoke in a 
broken, tremulous tone ; and at the close of her sentences 
her words generally lapsed into a horrid whisper, that was 
absolutely inaudible. After her first exit, the buzzing com- 
ment Went round the pit generally, She certainly is very 
pretty ; but then how awkward ! and what a shocking dresser ! 
Critique on her First Appearance. 

We trust that we have too much good sense to attempt paint- 
ing a picture of Sarah Siddons. In her youth it is said she 
was beautiful, even lovely, and won men's hearts as Rosalind. 
But beauty is a fading flower ; it faded from her face ere one 
wrinkle had touched that fixed paleness which seldom was 
tinged with any colour, even in the whirlwind of passion. 
Light came and went across those finest features at the coming 
or going of each feeling and thought ; but faint was the change 
of hue ever visible on that glorious marble. It was the mag- 
nificent countenance of an animated statue, in the stillness of 
its idealized beauty instinct with all the emotions of our 
mortal life. Idealized beauty ! Did we not say that beauty 
had faded from her face ? Yes, but it was overspread with a 
kindred expression, for which we withhold the name only 
because it seemed more divine, inspiring awe that over- 
powered while it mingled with delight, more than regal say 
rather, immortal. Such an image surely had never before 
trod, nor ever again will tread, the enchanted floor. In all 
stateliest shows of waking woe she dwindled the stateliest into 
insignificance; her majesty made others mean; in her sun- 



232 Mrs. Siddons. 

like light all stars " paled their ineffectual fires." But none 
knew the troubled grandeur of guilt till they saw her in Lady 
Macbeth, walking in her sleep, and as she wrung her hands, 
striving in vain to wash from her the engrained murder, " Not 
all the perfumes of Arabia could sweeten this little hand !" 
The whisper came as from the hollow grave ; and more 
hideously haunted than ever was the hollow grave, seemed 
then to be the cell of her heart ! Shakspeare's self had learned 
something then from a sight of Siddons. John Wilson. 

Lord Lansdowne mentioned Mrs. Siddons saying one day, 
when looking over the statues at Lansdowne House, that the 
first thing that suggested to her the mode of expressing inten- 
sity of feeling was the position of some of the Egyptian 
statues, with the arms close down by the side, and the hands 
clenched. This implied a more intellectual feeling as to 
her art than I have ever given Mrs. Siddons credit for. 
T. Moore? 

When Mrs. Siddons, in her spectacles and mob-cap, read 
" Macbeth" or " King John," it was one of the grandest 
dramatic achievements that could be imagined, with the least 
possible admixture of the theatrical element. Mrs. Siddons 
could lay no claim to versatility ; it was not in her nature ; she 
was without mobility of mind, countenance, or manner. 
fanny Kemble. 

Mrs. Siddons continues (1782) to be the mode, and to be 
modest and sensible. She declines great dinners, and says her 
business and the cares of her family take up her whole time. 
When Lord Carlisle carried her the tribute-money from 



1 " Had a good deal of conversation with Siddons, and was for the first 
time in my life interested by her off the stage. She talked of the loss of 
friends, and mentioned herself as having lost twenty-six friends in the 
course of the last six years. It is something to have had so many. 
Among other reasons for her regret at leaving the stage was that she always 
found in it a vent for her private sorrows, which enabled her to bear them 

^ better ; and often she has got credit for the truth and feeling of her acting 
when she was doing nothing more than relieving her own heart of its 

!. grief. This I have no doubt is true, and there is something particularly 
touching in it. Rogers has told me that she often complained to him of 
the great enmii she has felt since she quitted her profession. When sitting 
drearily alone, she has remembered what a moment of excitement it used 
to be when she was in all the preparation of her toilette to meet a crowded 
house, and exercise all the sovereignty of her talents over them," Moore '3 
"Diary" 1828. 






Mrs. Siddons. 233 

Brookes's, he said she was not maniere enough. '* I suppose 
she was graceful ?" said my niece, Lady Maria. Mrs. Siddons 
was desired to play Medea and Lady Macbeth. "No," she 
replied ; " she did not look on them as female characters." She 
was questioned about her transactions with Garrick. She said, 
" He did nothing but put her out ; that he told her she moved 
her right hand when it should have been her left. In short," 
said she, " I found I must not shade the tip of his nose." 
Mr. Crauford, too, asked me if I did not think her the best 
actress I ever saw. I said, " By no means ; we old folks were 
apt to be prejudiced in favour of our first impressions." She is 
a good figure ; handsome enough, though neither nose nor 
chin according to the Greek standard, beyond which both 
advance a good deal. Her hair is either red, or she has no 
objection to its being thought so, and had used red powder. 
Her voice is clear and good ; but I thought she did not vary 
its modulations enough, nor even approach enough to the 
familiar ; but this may come when more habituated to the awe 
of the audience of the capital. Her action is proper, but with 
little variety ; when without motion her arms are not genteel. 
Walpole, 1782. 

In support of my theory of the mute eloquence of gait and 
movement, Charles Young was wont to speak in terms of 
almost wanton admiration of a bold point he saw Mrs. Siddons 
once make. In the second scene of the second act of 
" Coriolanus," an ovation in honour of the victor was introduced. 
No fewer than two hundred and forty persons marched in 
stately procession across the stage. In this procession Mrs. 
Siddons had to walk. Had she been content to follow in the 
beaten track of those who had gone before her she would have 
marched across the stage with the solemn, stately, almost 
funereal step conventional. But at the time as she often did 
she forgot her identity ; she was no longer Sarah Siddons, tied 
down to the directions of the prompter's book : she broke 
through old traditions ; she recollected that she was Volumnia, 
the proud mother of a proud son, and conquering hero. So 
that, instead of dropping each foot at equi-distance in cadence 
subservient to the orchestra, deaf to the guidance of her 
woman's ear, but sensitive to the throbbings of her haughty 
mother's heart, with flashing eye and proudest smile, and head 
erect, and hands pressed firmly on her bosom, as if to repress 
by manual force its triumphant swellings, she towered above 



234 George Frederick Cooke. 

all around her, and almost reeled across the stage, her very 
soul, as it were, dilating and rioting in its exultations, until her 
action lost all grace, and yet became so true to nature, so 
picturesque and so descriptive, that pit and gallery sprang to 
their feet electrified by the transcendent execution of the con- 
ception. Life of Charles Mayne Young. 

This actress, like a resistless torrent, has borne down all 
before her. Her merit, which is certainly very extensive in 
tragic characters, seems to have swallowed up all remembrance 
of past and present performers ; but as I would not sacrifice 
the living to the dead, neither would I break down the statues 
of the honourable deceased to place their successors on their 
pedestals. The fervour of the public is laudable ; I wish it 
may be lasting, but I hope without that ingratitude to their old 
servants, which will make their passion for Mrs. Siddons less 
valuable, as it will convey' a warning to her that a new face 
may possibly erase the impression which she has so anxiously 
studied to form, and so happily made. Davies. 

We think of Mrs. Siddons now not only as the greatest 
tragic actress of whom there is any trace in living memory, 
but as a splendid exception to the rules of nature an artist 
above her art ; one who not only surpassed all others in degree, 
but excelled them in kind- which certainly is not the feeling 
of those who have seen Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Yates, and others, 
who divided the throne with her in the beginning of her 
career. Talfourd. 

George Frederick Cooke. 
1756-1812. 

There is an American life of G. F. Cooke, Scurra, deceased, 
lately published. Such a book ! I believe since " Drunken 
Barnaby's Journal," nothing like it has drenched the press. All 
green-room and tap-room, drams and the drama brandy, 
whisky-punch, and latterly, toddy, overflow every page. Two 
things are rather marvellous : first, that a man should live so 
long drunk, and next that he should have found a sober 
biographer. Byron? 

George Frederick Cooke was once invited by a builder or 



1 Byron thought him the most natural of actors. ED. 



George Frederick Cooke. 235 

architect of one of the theatres Elmerton, as I think. He 
went; and Klmerton being at a loss whom to invite, pitched 
upon Brandon the box-keeper, to meet him. All went on 
pretty well until midnight, when George Frederick getting very 
drunk, his host began to be tired of his company. George 
took the hint, and his host lighted him downstairs; when 
Cooke, laying hold of both his ears, shouted, " Have I, George 
Frederick Cooke, degraded myself by dining with bricklayers 
to meet box-keepers !" tripped up his heels, and left him 
sprawling in darkness. Charles Lamb. 

On one occasion when Cooke fell under the merited rebuke 
of a crowded house by a repeated instance of gross intem- 
perance, having vainly tried to recollect the beginning of 
JtichanVs first soliloquy, he tottered forward with a cunning yet 
maudlin intent to divert the indignation expressed into a false 
channel ; and laying his hand impressively on his chest to 
insinuate that illness was the only cause of his failure, with up- 
turned eyes supplicating all the sympathy of his audience, he 
hiccuped out the unlucky words, " My old complaint!" which 
was applied so aptly, that a simultaneous burst of derisive 
laughter followed " the weak invention," and renewed hisses at 
length dismissed him from the stage for the night. 1 Mrs. C. 
Mathews. 

Few actors were more popular in their day than George 
Frederick Cooke, whose very errors excited an additional 
interest to behold him in his favourite characters. Mr. Cooke 
was an instance of the advantage of an actor undergoing stage 
discipline in the country before he assumes the highest walk of 
the drama on the metropolitan boards. He played in London, 
was unnoticed, and then went the round of the country 
theatres. Twenty years afterwards he returned to town, a 
theatrical star of the first magnitude. Mr. Cooke used to say 
that the highest compliment he ever received on the stage was 
at York, when he portrayed the base duplicity of fago, that he 



1 Cooke seems to have pretty often taken very extraordinary liberties 
with his audiences. Acting once at Liverpool, he was hissed for being so 
far drunk as to render his declamation unintelligible. He turned savagely 
upon the people. " What ! do you hiss me ! hiss George Frederick 
Cooke ! you contemptible money-getters ! You shall never again have the 
honour of hissing me ! Farewell ! / banish you." After a moment's 
pause, he added, in his deepest tones, " There is not a brick in your dirty 
ioivn but what is cemented by the blood of a negro /" ED. 



236 George Frederick Cooke. 






was hissed amid cries of " What a villain !" Cooke's lago 
was always considered an unrivalled performance. Percy 
Anecdotes. 

His figure and face are much more adapted to the villain 
than the lover. His countenance, particularly when dressed 
for Richard, is somewhat like Kemble's, the nose and chin 
being very prominent features, but the face is not so long. 
He has a finely marked eye, and upon the whole, I think, 
a very fine face. His voice is extremely powerful, and he has 
one of the clearest rants I ever heard. The most striking fault 
in his figure is his arms, which are remarkably short and 
ill-proportioned to the rest of his body, and in his walk this 
gives him a very ungraceful appearance. He is one of the 
most intelligent men and agreeable companions I ever met 
with, and I think myself extremely fortunate in getting into the 
same house with him. Charles Mathews. 

Cooke has brought a mine of wealth to Covent Garden. 
He is a curious actor ; often great, often surprising, with some 
whimsical defects that act as a foil to his excellencies. John 
Litchfield. 

Cooke performed FalstaffVke, an old lurching sharper. He 
was shrewd and sarcastic, but wanted easy flowing humour. 
y. Taylor. 1 

To Covent Garden Cooke was an accession of great value : 
he was a Shy lock, an lago, a Kitely, a Sir Archy, and a Sir 
Pertinax. He was formed for the sarcastic ; like Macklin, his 
features and his utterance were only harmonious in discord. 
He was an admirable Sir Giles Overreach, a character in which 
Massinger is very close indeed to the power of Shakspeare. I 
forget whether he played Luke in that author's " City Madam ;" 
but the hard, insolent irony of that masterpiece would have sat 
upon him without a sign of effort. Our drama does not afford 
many specimens of the kind I mean. It was not sturdy or 
unceremonious virtue that Cooke excelled in; the sarcasm 
must be malignant to suit him perfectly. He was an 
Apemantus, not a Kent. Boadcn. 



1 John Taylor was the son of the Chevalier Taylor, a man notorious in 
his day as a travelling quack. Taylor was a journalist and dramatic 
author. His " Monsieur Tonson" is still remembered for its humour. 
His first wife and Mrs. Stephen Kemble were sisters. Through this he 
lived on terms of intimacy with the Kemble family. He was for a long 
time proprietor of the Sun newspaper. He died 1832. ED, 






George Frederick Cooke. 237 

The best Richard since Garrick, and who has not been 
surpassed even by Edmund Kean. Cooke had seen Gairick, 
and this was no doubt much to his advantage. I thought 
J'.diiuind Kean inferior to him in Lear, but in Sir <V//M 
Overreach superior, particularly in the last scene. I was tokl 
by Bannister that Cooke's Falstaffwzs much below Henderson's, 
but it certainly was much above any other Falstaff I ever 
saw ; and his MacSycophant and MacSarcasm were perfection. 
I think of him always with particular interest, not only as one 
of the very few really great tragic actors I have seen, but as the 
cause of my coming to England. I dined once in company 
with him at the fish-house on the banks of the Schuylkill, with 
a club of gentlemen, who in the summer months resorted there 
to fish. Cooke's manners when sober were perfect, and I came 
away before he got drunk. 1 Leslie, " Autobiography" 

On the night that the King commanded this comedy, he 
asked Mr. Harris whether it were true that Cooke intended to 
perform the King of Denmark. The manager replying in the 
affirmative, his Majesty hastened away, observing, " Won't do, 
won't do. Lord Thurlow might as well play Hamlet" The 
King was right, and the Prince failed in toto. When Cooke 
once performed this part in Ireland, he sharpened his sword in 
the green-room, saying, " I and Mr. Laertes will to-night in 
reality settle our little disputes," which alarming threat reaching 
the menaced actor's ears, at the commencement of the fencing 
match the son of Polonius, seizing Hamlet with both hands by 
the collar, threw him on his back, and triumphantly put his 
knee on him. F. Reynolds. 

When the tragedian was intoxicated he was overbearing, 
noisy, and insufferably egotistical, asking questions and 
answering them himself, thus: "Who am I, sir? George 
Frederick Cooke, sir. What am I, sir ? The tragedian : not 
Black Jack, sir." Cooke married a Miss Daniells. Influenced 
by jealousy he locked her up in a garret, and in a drunken fit, 
forgetting everything, absented himself from home; his lady 



1 " In early life he was apprenticed to a printer, but his attention tc 
theatricals so absorbed his mind that his master soon had his indentures 
cancelled. He then tried the navy, with no better success. After the 
usual probation he became a star at the larger provincial theatres, and was 
at length engaged at Dublin for three years. There his fame travelled to 
London, and in October, 1800, he made his appearance at Covent Garden." 
Memoit. 



238 George Frederick Cooke. 

was in danger of starvation no one was in the house but the 
prisoner her cries at length were heard in the street, and by 
means of a ladder she was released. She was wise enough not 
to incur the danger a second time, and obtained a divorce. At 
certain times Cooke was as mad as any inmate of Bedlam or 
St. Luke's. In one of his quarrels a common soldier declined 
fighting with him because he (C.) was rich, and the persons 
present would, he affirmed, favour him. " Look ye here, sir," 
said Cooke, "all I possess in the world is here, 35o/.," and he 
thrust the bank notes into the fire, and held the poker upon 
them until they were consumed. " Now I am a beggar, sir ; 
will you fight me now ?" Records of a Stage Veteran. 

I saw Kemble play Sir Giles Overreach (the Richard III. of 
middling life) last night ; but he came not within a hundred 
miles of Cooke, whose terrible visage, and short, abrupt, and 
savage utterance, gave a reality almost to that extraordinary 
scene in which he boasts of his own successful villainy to 
a nobleman of worth and honour, of whose alliance he i? 
ambitious. Cooke somehow contrived to impress upon the 
audience the idea of such a monster of enormity as had learnt 
to pique himself even upon his own atrocious character. But 
Kemble was too handsome, too plausible, and too smooth. 
Sir W. Scott. 

Among the Covent Garden actors must not be forgotten 
Cooke, who came out there in Richard III. For some time he 
was the greatest performer of this and a few other characters. 
He was a new kind of Macklin, and like him excelled in 
Shylock and Sir Archy^ MacSarcasm ; a confined actor, and 
a wayward man, but highly impressive in what he could do. 
His artful villains have been found fault with for looking too 
artful and villainous ; but men of that stamp are apt to look so. 
The art of hiding is a considerable one ; but habit will betray it 
after all, and stand foremost in the countenance. They who 
think otherwise are only too dull to see it. Besides, Cooke 
had generally to represent bold-faced, aspiring art, and to hug 
himself in its triumph. This he did with such a gloating 
countenance, as if villainy was pure luxury in him, and with 
such a soft inward retreating of his voice a wrapping up of 
himself, as it were, in velvet so different from his ordinary 
rough way, that sometimes one could almost have wished to 
abuse him. Leigh Hunt, 



239 

John Philip Kemble. 
1757-1823. 

Died, near Lausanne, on the 26th of February, J. P. Kemble, 
Ks(|., in his sixty-sixth year. On the 24th it appears he rose 
well, and went to an adjoining room to speak to Mrs. Kemble, 
and then returning to his room was observed to totter in his 
gait. Mrs. Kemble noticed this and assisted him to his chair, 
but getting worse Dr. Schole was sent for, who found him in 
the position described, but already altered and exhibiting very 
unfavourable symptoms his left side had suffered a decided 
attack, and he could with difficulty articulate. He seemed ex- 
tremely anxious to spare the feelings of Mrs. Kemble. Dr. 
Schole, with the assistance of his old attached servant, George, 
helped him to his bed, and in the act of conducting him there, a 
second attack took place, so suddenly that his clothes were 
obliged to be cut asunder, in order that he might the more 
speedily be let blood. But nature was fast exhausting ; nor 
could he ever make use of his speech after a few words which 
he had uttered on Dr. Schole's arrival. He, however, 
assented or dissented by signs of the head until within two 
hours of his complete extinction. His last intelligible words 
were " George, George." In fine, a third attack, on Wednes- 
day the 26th, just forty-eight hours after the first, proved fatal : 
though to a stranger he might appear to suffer, it is the opinion 
of the doctor that he was long insensible to the acute feelings 
of pain. He had imagined that the climate of Italy would 
prove beneficial to his health ; but having arrived in Rome three 
months before under unfavourable circumstances of the season, 
he became worse and worse, so that the English physician, Dr. 
Clarke, hurried him away to return to Lausanne, where he had 
been comparatively well. His occupations were his books acd 
his garden the latter was his predilection ; it was resorted to 
by him with the first rays of the sun, and kept in a state of 
cultivation rarely to be surpassed. He was the eldest son of 
Mr. Roger Kemble, and was born in 1757, at Prescot, in Lan- 
cashire. He received the first part of his education at the Roman 
Catholic seminary at SedgeleyPark,in Staffordshire, and was after- 
wards sent to the University of Douay to be qualified for one of 
the learned professions. Here he soon became distinguished 
for that talent for elocution which afterwards raised him to 



240 John Philip Kemble. 

such eminence. Having finished his academical studies he 
returned to England, and, preferring the stage to either of the 
professions for which he had been intended, he performed at 
Liverpool, York, and Edinburgh. While at York, Mr. Kemble 
introduced a new species of entertainment, consisting of reci- 
tations of some of the Odes of Mason, Collins, and Gray ; the 
tales of Le Fevre and Maria, from Sterne ; and other popular 
pieces in prose and verse. In these he was particularly suc- 
cessful, and they contributed to increase his reputation. In 
Edinburgh he delivered a lecture of his own composition, on 
Sacred and Profane Oratory, which, from the talent and sound 
criticism it displayed, gained him the reputation of refined 
taste among men of letters. He afterwards performed for 
two years with flattering success in Dublin. Mr. Kemble made 
his first appearance in London, at Drury Lane Theatre, in the 
character of Hamlet, September 3Oth, 1783. His reception 
was most encouraging, but he had not an opportunity of fully 
developing his powers till the retirement of Mr. Smith, in 1788, 
who had been in possession of almost all the principal 
parts both in tragedy and comedy. On the secession of Mr. 
King, Mr. Kemble became manager of Drury Lane Theatre, 
which office he filled till 1796. Shortly afterwards he resumed 
the management, and held it till the conclusion of the season 
1 800- 1. In 1802 Mr. Kemble visited the Continent, for the 
purpose of introducing to the British stage whatever he might 
find worthy of adoption in foreign theatres. He spent a twelve- 
month at Paris and Madrid, where he was honoured with that 
marked consideration which his eminent talents merited. On 
his return he purchased a sixth part of the property of Covent 
Garden Patent, and became manager of that theatre, which 
situation he filled till a season or two before his retirement 
During his management in London Mr. Kemble revived seve* 
ral pieces of merit, and adapted many of our immortal bard's 
productions to the taste of modern times. He was also the 
author of " Belisarius," a tragedy which was acted at Hull in 
1778, but never printed the " Female Officer," a farce, acted 
at York in 1779, not printed ; " O ! It's Impossible !" (altered 
from the " Comedy of Errors"), a comedy performed at York, 
1780, this was also never printed ; the " Pannel," a farce taken 
from Bickerstaff's " Tis Well it's no Worse;" "The Farm 
House," a comedy ; " Love in Many Masks," a comedy ; " Lo- 
doiska," a musical romance; "Celadon and Florimel," a 



John Philip Kemble. 241 

comedy, which has not been printed. Mr. Kemble also pub- 
lished, about the year 1780, a small collection of verses, under 
the title of " Fugitive Pieces." They were juvenile productions, 
and it is said that the very day after their publication he was 
so discontented with them when in print that lie destroyed every 
copy he could procure ; some few, however, escaped the general 
immolation, and one of them, at a sale a few years since, fetched 
3/. 5r. Of Mr. Kemble, as an actor, most have been able to 
form their own estimate. In private life he was a scholar and 
a gentleman. Memoir at the time of his Death. 

The most supernatural of actors. Byron* 

This great actor, and amiable and accomplished man, left 
the stage in 1816, and died the 26th of February, 1823, at 
Lausanne. In his own day he had no competitor in any walk 
of tragedy ; and those (of whom I knew several) who re- 
membered Barry, Mossop, Henderson, and Garrick, admitted 
that in characters of high tragic dignity, such as Hamlet, 
Coriolantts, Alexander, Cato, he excelled all his predecessors 
almost as much as his sister did all actresses in the female 
characters of the same heroic class. I never saw any that 
approached to either. She, it is agreed, was never excelled, 
and he by Garrick alone, and by Garrick only in his universality. 
In such characters as I have mentioned, those who had seen 
both preferred Kemble, whose countenance and figure were 
both suited to those parts. -J. IV. Croker, "BosweiFs Johnson." 

Kemble was unpopular with all but the aristocratic portion 
of his audience, to whom exclusively he was accused of paying 
court. He is said to have been proud and authoritative in 
his bearing towards others, and to have given disgust by the 
affectation which was exhibited in his manners, language, and 
even in his acting. An amusing instance of this was shown 
in the obstinacy with which he contended that the word ache 
should be pronounced as it is written, aitche, and in the 
pertinacity with which he held himself to that pronunciation. 
Thomas Wright, " Caricature History." 

Is it not also much to recollect Kemble, when he too was 
after the high Roman fashion, and the last of the Romans ? 
Some persons begin now to praise him for his classical and 



1 " Was not lago perfection ?" wrote Byron, " particularly the last look. 
I was close to him, and never saw an English countenance half so expres- 
sive." Life of Byron. 

ft 



242 John Philip Kemble. 

/ erudite performance of certain characters, as though he had 
been denied the power of touching the tenderer sympathies 
of our natures ; but who has seen him in the Stranger or 
Penruddock and not shed tears from the deepest sources? 
His tenderly putting away the son of his treacherous friend, 
and inconstant, but unhappy mistress, examining his counte- 
nance, and then exclaiming, in a voice which developed a 
thousand mysterious feelings, " You are very like your mother," 
was sufficient to stamp his excellence in the pathetic line of 
acting. But in this respect Mrs. Siddons was a disadvantage 
to him. I enter into no comparison between their merits ; but 
it would have been fair to remember that the sorrows of a. 
woman formed to be admired and revered are in general more 
touching, more softening, than those of a warrior, a philosopher, 
or a statesman. I always saw him with pain descend to the 
Stranger. It was like the genius in the Arabian tale going 
into the vase. First, it seemed so unlikely he should meet 
with such an affront, and this injured the probability of the 
piece ; and next, the Stranger is really never dignified, and one is 
always in pain for him, poor gentleman ! Mrs. 7?. Trench, 
1822, '-'Remains." 

No man could deliver brilliant dialogue the dialogue of 
Congreve or of Wycherly because none understood it half so 
well as John Kemble. His Valentine, in " Love for Love," 
was, to my recollection, faultless. He flagged sometimes in 
the intervals of tragic passion; he would slumber over the 
level parts of an heroic character ; his Macbeth has been known 
to nod. But he always seemed to me to be particularly alive 
to pointed and witty dialogue. The relaxing levities of 
tragedy have not been touched by any since him. The playful 
court-bred spirit in which he condescended to the players in 
Hamlet, the sportive relief which he threw into the darker 
shades of Richard, disappeared with him. He had his sluggish 
moods, his torpors, but they were the halting-stones and 
resting-places of his tragedy, politic savings and fetches of the 
breath, husbandry of the lungs, where nature pointed him to 
be an economist, rather, I think, than errors of judgment. 
Charles Lamb. 

The daughter of a nobleman is said to have discovered a 
strong passion for Mr. Kemble, which induced the father to 
send to him, and after stating the circumstance, he observed 
that effectual means were taken to prevent an union between 



John Philip Kemble. 243 

Mr. Kemble and his daughter, should they mutually wish it. 
He then proposed to Mr. Kemble that if he would relieve 
him from the duty of being a sentinel over his daughter by 
marrying some other lady, he would present him with 4000/1 ; 
but that it must be done within a fortnight. Mr. Kemble con- 
sented, and married Mrs. Brereton ; but it is said the noble lord 
did not keep his promise, and that Mr. Kemble never received 
a shilling from him. Life of Kemble, 1828. 

John Kemble was often very amusing when he had had a 
good deal of wine. He and two friends were returning to 
town in an open carriage from the Priory (Lord Abercorn's), 
where they had dined ; and as they were waiting for change at 
a toll-gate, Kemble, to the amazement of the toll-keeper, called 
out in the tone of Rolla? " We seek no change; and least of 
all such change as he would bring us !" When Kemble was 
living at Lausanne, he used to feel ratker jealous of Mont 
Blanc ; he disliked to hear people always asking, " How does 
Mont Blanc look this morning ?" S. Rogers 's " TabU Talk." 

Fair as some classic dome, 

Robust and richly graced, 
Your Kemble's spirit was the home 

Of Genius and of Taste- 
Taste like the silent dial's power, 

That when supernal light is given, 
Can measure inspiration's hour, 

And tell its height in heaven. 

At once ennobled and correct, 

His mind surveyed the tragic page, 

And what the Actor could effect, 
The Scholar could presage. 2 

Thomas Campbell. 



1 " Sheridan's translation of the 'Death of Rolla,'" wrote Mrs. 
Trench, "under the name of 'Pizarro,' has brought him 5<XX>/. per week 
for five weeks. The sentiments of loyalty uttered by Rolla are supposed 
to have had so good an effect, that on the Duke of Queensberry's asking- 
why the stocks had fallen, a stockjobber replied, 'Because at Drury Lane 
they had left off acting ' Pizarro.' Memoirs. 

a Not always. He once designed to play Machcath in the " Beggars' 
Opera," a part about as much suited for him as Isaac Mendoza in the 
"Duenna," and it is notorious he played Charles Surface in the "School 
for Scandal" against the advice of every one competent to advise, until 

* 2 



244 John Philip Kemble. 

When Kemble was appointed stage-manager of Drtiry Lane, 
his fine classical taste and judgment saw at once the ridiculous 
costume handed down from the days of Shakspeare and 
Garrick such as a stiff-skirted coat for Othello, breeches, 
waistcoat, black face, white full-bottomed wig, and three- 
cocked hat He accordingly searched the engravings and 
paintings of former ages, and had the historical drama dressed 
in the proper costume of its period. This great benefit to the 
legitimate works of the country must be ascribed to John 
Kemble, and to no other. 1 Donaldson's "Recollections." 

The theatre opened for the after-season on Monday, May 25 
(1795), witn "Hamlet" and the "Village Lawyer;" Hamlet 
Mr. Kemble, his first appearance these six years ; and if twenty 
guineas had been offered for a ticket or a place in the boxes, 
it could not have been purchased. In all my life I never saw 
people more anxious to get into a theatre. Every avenue was 
crowded at an early hour ; and after the theatre was filled, 1 
may safely assert many hundreds went away. Kemble's re- 
ception was quite rapturous ; every one seemed delighted 
those who had seen him, at the return of their former favourite, 
and those who had not seen him, at his figure and appearance. 
The applause was continued to six or seven peals. Being out 
of the play, I went in front, and never had so great a treat. 
His Hamlet certainly must be ranked as one of his best parts. 
In the scene with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, after the play, 
it is customary with other actors, when performing that 
character, to address themselves entirely to Guildenstern 
" Can you play upon this pipe ?" But Kemble, after speaking 
to him, and " entreating," turns to Rosencrantz " Can you ?" 
when standing between them, and alternately surveying them 
with scorn, he addresses them : " How poor a thing," &c. 
This, however trifling the alteration may appear, has a much 



laughed out of it by being asked, " Mr. Kemble, you have long given us 
Charleses martyrdom ; when shall we have his restoration ?" ED. 

1 In Garrick's time Macbeth wore a suit of black silk, with silk stockings 
and shoes, buckles at the knees and feet, a full-bottomed wig, and a sword. 
The anomaly, however, seems to disappear, when we read that in 1770 a 
well-dressed gentleman wore a mixed silk coat, pink satin waistcoat, 
breeches covered with silver net, white silk stockings with pink clocks, 
pink satin shoes and pearl buckles, high hair, well powdered and stuffed 
with pearl pins, and a mushroom-coloured stock covered with point lace, 

ED, 



II 



JoJiu Philip Kemble. 245 

better effect than addressing only one, as it disposes the three 
figures better. Charles Mathews. 

Jn January, 1777, they drank tea and supped at Mrs. 
Siddons's ; there Mrs. Inchbald first s;i\v her brother, Mr. 
Knnblf, \sho seems to have been pleased with his new 

acquaintances He was now in his twentieth year, his 

countenance remarkably striking, his figure, though muscular, 
slender ; he greatly exceeded the usual measure of learning 
among young men, was very domestic in his habits, and fond 

of a friendly fireside Mrs. Inchbald seems to have paid 

him the homage of a very particular study as a character out of 
the common road, and consequently in some danger of losing 
his way ; for as to the powers of his genius, perhaps they 
needed the brilliant success of his sister to warm them to their 
full expansion, and prepare the public for a style of acting some- 
/what scholastic and systematic. Boaderfs ''Life of Inchbald." 

Kemble came into a part with a stately dignity, as if he 
disdained to listen to nature, however she might whisper, until 
he had examined and weighed the value of her counsel. 
B. R. Haydon. 

I like him equally well with Cooke, but I think it is hardly 
right to draw a comparison between them, as the line of 
characters they each excel in is quite different. Kemble could 
not play Sir Pertinax like Cooke, nor could the latter play 
Pierre or Coriolanus like Kemble. C. R. Leslie. 

Of Kemble I must say that in several characters, particularly 
in those of the Roman and the Misanthrope, he was un- 
questionably the finest actor I ever saw, and off the stage his 
unaffected simplicity of manner rendered him most pleasing 
and entertaining. One instance of this simplicity I well 
remember. Meeting him at a dinner in the city, not long 
after he had performed Charles in the " School for Scandal," 
when our flattering host, asserting that this character had been 
lost to the stage since the days of Smith, added that Kemble's 
performance of it should be considered as Charles's Restoration, 
to this a less complimentary guest replied, in an undertone, that 
in his opinion this performance should rather be considered as 
Charles's Martyrdom. Our witty critic, however, did not speak 
so low but that the great tragedian heard him ; when, to our sur- 
prise and amusement, instead of manifesting indignation, he 
smiled and said, " Well now, that gentleman is not altogether 
singular in his opinion. A few months ago, having taken a glass 



yohn Philip Kemble. 

too much, I inadvertently quarrelled with a gentleman in the 
street. This gentleman called on me the following morning 
for an explanation. * Sir,' said I, ' when I commit an error, 1 
am always ready to atone for it ; and if you will only name 
any reasonable reparation in my power ' ' Sir,' interrupted the 
gentleman, * at once I meet your proposal, and name one. 
Solemnly promise, in the presence of this my friend, that you 
will never play Charles Surface again, and I am perfectly 
satisfied.' Well, I did promise, not from nervosity, as you may 
suppose, gentlemen ; but because, though Sheridan was 
pleased to say that he liked me in the part, I certainly did not 
like myself in it ; no, no more than that gentleman who has 
just done me the favour to call it Charles's Martyrdom." F. 
Reynolds. 

Mr. Kemble did not, like his sister, burst on the town in the 
full maturity of his powers. He was a gentleman and a 
scholar, with signal advantages of person, and with almost 
equal defects of voice, who determined to become a noble 
actor, and who succeeded by infinite perseverance and care, 
assisted doubtless by the reputation and the influence of Mrs. 
Siddons. He formed a high standard in his own mind, and 
gradually rose to its level. At his very last, in all characters 
which were within the scope of his physical capacity, he played 
his best, and that best seemed absolute perfection. His 
career, therefore, may be reviewed with that calm and in- 
creasing pleasure, with which we contemplate the progressive 
advances of art ; instead of the feverish admiration and dis- 
appointment which are alternately excited by the history of 
those who have played from impulse in the first vigour of 
youth, and. in after-days have been compelled languidly to 
retrace the vestiges of their early genius. At first he had but a 
limited choice of characters ; he was opposed by Henderson, 
to whom he was then unequal, and rivalled by Smith, who held 
possession of the chief parts in tragedy as well as comedy till 
he left the stage. For a long time, Holman and even Pope 
divided public favour with him; but the seeds of greatness 
were deeply implanted in his nature, and the determination to 
cultivate and mature them. Even after he became manager 
and obtained an uneasy and invidious power, there were not 
wanting accidents to retard his progress. Cooke, in spite of his 
imprudences, perhaps by the aid of some of them, beat him on 
his stage in the estimation of the vulgar ; Master Betty obscured 



John Philip Kcuible. 247 

him for a season ; and the O. P. 1 disturbance, ungenerously 
begun by the people, and imprudently resisted by the managers, 
set him in painful opposition to the town, and fretted the 
haughty spirit which it could not subdue. But resolution 
prevailed ; he went on calmly studying the principles of his 
art, and succeeded at last in presenting the stateliest pictures of 



1 Covent Garden Theatre was burned on September iQth, 1808, and was 
now in rapid progress of rebuilding. Its re-opening led to the most ex- 
traordinary theatrical riots that this eon n try ever witne-.sed. Immediately 
after the destruction of the theatre Kcmble solicited a subscription to re- 
build it, which was speedily filled up, the Duke of Northumberland con- 
tributing ten thousand pounds. The first stone of the new building was 
laid by the Prince of Wales on the last day of the year 1808, and it was 
completed with such rapidity that on the iSth of September, 1809, it was 
opened with "Macbeth," Kemble himself appearing in the character of 
Macbeth. In the new arrangement a row of private boxes formed the 
third tier under the gallery. The furniture of each box and of the adjoin- 
ing room was to be according to the taste of the several occupants. To 
make these extraordinary accommodations for the great the comforts of the 
rest of the audience were considerably diminished. To crown all, the 
theatre opened with an increase of the prices, the pit being raised from 
3-r. 6(f. to 4^., and the boxes from 6s. to 7*. The manager said that this 
was necessary to cover the great expense of rebuilding the theatre ; but 
the public declared that the old prices were sufficient, and that the new 
ones were a mere exaction to enable Kemble to pay enormous salaries to 
foreigners like Madame Catalani (who had been engaged at I5o/. a week 
to perform two nights only). On the first night of representation, which 
was Monday, the curtain drew up to a crowded theatre, and the audience 
seemed to be lost in admiration at the beauty of the decorations until 
Kemble made his appearance on the stage. A faint attempt at applause 
got up by his own friends was in an instant drowned by an overpowering 
noise of groans, hisses, yells, which drove him from the stage. Mrs. 
Siddons then came forward, but met with no better reception. Kemble 
had declared he would not give in to the popular clamour, but the next 
night and the nights following it was continued with greater fury. On 
Wednesday night the manager came forward to address the audience, and 
attempted to make a justification of his conduct, which was not accepted. 
On Friday he presented himself again, and proposed that the decision of 
the dispute should be put to a committee composed of the Governor of the 
Bank of England, the Attorney-General, and others. On Saturday night 
this was agreed to, and the theatre was shut up until the decision was 
obtained, the obnoxious Catalani having in the meantime agreed to cancel 
her engagement. On the Wednesday following the theatre was re-opened, 
but the report of the committee being of a very unsatisfactory kind, the 
uproar became greater than ever. The manager is said to have hired a 
great number of boxers, and on the Friday night following, the various 
fights in the pit gave it the appearance of a boxing-school. During this 
period everything distinguished by the epithet O. P. (old prices) became 
fashionable. There was an O. P. Dance. Finding it utterly impossible 



248 John Philip Kemble. 

Roman greatness, and giving the most appropriate expression 
to philosophic thought, that it had entered into modern imagi- 
nation to conceive. 1 New Monthly Magazine, 1825. 

Kemble has no deshabille talent, if I may coin the phrase. 
Away from the lamps he was a mere private gentleman, and to 
most persons must have appeared an exceedingly dull one. 
His mind was not obtuse, but his extreme slowness gave him 
all the appearance of obtusity. In allusion to his asthma, he 
was wont to say that no one else of his family knew the misery 
of " drawing on their own chest, and finding the cheque dis- 
honoured." Kemble and Henderson were both subject at 
times to profound melancholy ; Kean gave way to despondency, 
but that his habits sufficiently accounted for ; with his two 
great predecessors the feeling seemed to be "a part of them 
and of their natures." Records of a Veteran. 

He seems to me always to play best those characters in 
which there is a predominating tinge of some over-mastering 
passion, or acquired habit of acting and speaking, colouring the 
whole man. The patrician pride of Coriolanns, the stoicism of 
Brutus and Cato, the rapid and hurried vehemence of Hotspur, 
mark the class of characters I mean. But he fails where a 
ready and pliable yielding to the events and passions of life 



to appease the rioters in any other way, Kemble gave in to them. A 
public dinner was held, at which no less than five hundred people attended, 
and Kemble came in person to make an apology for his conduct. After 
dinner there was a crowded theatre, and amid considerable uproar a humble 
apology was accepted from the manager. After their demands had been 
complied with, a large placard was unfurled, containing the words, "We 
are satisfied." Thus ended this extraordinary contest. Wright's " Carica- 
ture History," Abridged. 

1 Emery, Cooke, and Incledon were once overheard speaking of Kemble. 
A fragment of their conversation is preserved : 

"Emery. 'He has no natur ; not a bit. But then he never wur the 
feyther of a child, and that accounts for it.' 

" Cooke. ' With the voice of an emasculated French horn, and the face of 
an itinerant Israelite, he would compete with me, sir ; me George 
Frederick Cooke ! Wanted me to play Horatio to his Hamlet, sir ! Let 
him play Sir Pertinax, that's all. I would like to hear him attempt the 
dialect.' 

"Incledon. * Attempt ! The fact is, my dear boys, he'd attempt any- 
thing.' Here Incledon illustrated some of Kemble's attempts in a way 
the reader must imagine, and wound it up by saying, * and, lastly, he 

actually attempted to sing, d me, in the presence of the national 

singer of England, Charles Incledon ; d me !' " 



John Philip Kemble. 249 

makes what may be termed a more natural personage. Accord- 
ingly, I think his Macbeth, Lear, and especially his Richard, 
inferior in spirit and truth. In Hamlet the natural fixed 
nu hmcholy of. the prince places him within Kemble's range ; 
yet many delicate and sudden turns of passion slip through his 
fingers. He is a lordly vessel, goodly and magnificent when 
going large before the wind, but wanting the facility to go " ready 
about" so that he is sometimes among the breakers before he 
can wear ship. Yet we lose in him an excellent critic, an 
accomplished scholar, and one who graced our forlorn drama 
with what little it has left of good sense and gentlemanlike 
fcL-ling. Sir \V. Scott. 

Kemble was a cultivated man, but a poor creature when he 
put pen to paper, or otherwise had to bring out anything of 
mind. T. Moore? 

I went as J promised to see the new Hamlet, whose provincial 
fame had excited your curiosity as well as mine. There has 
not been such a first appearance since yours; yet nature, 
though she has been bountiful to him in figure and features, 
has denied him a voice. Now and then he was as deliberate 
in his delivery as if he had been reading prayers, and had 
waited for the responses. He is a very handsome man, almost 
tall, and almost large, with features of a sensible, but fixed and 
tragic cast. His action is graceful, though somewhat formal 
which you will find it hard to believe, yet it is true. Very 
careful study appears in all he says and all he does ; but there 
is more singularity aad ingenuity than simplicity and fire. 
Upon the whole he strikes me rather as a finished French 
performer than as a varied and vigorous English actor. 
Richard Sharp, to Henderson, the Actor, 1785. 



1 " One night, when John Kemble was performing at some country theatre 
one of his most favourite parts, he was much interrupted, from time to time, 
by the squalling of a young child in one of the galleries. At length, 
angered by this rival performance, Kemble walked with solemn step to the 
front of the stage, and addressing the audience in his most tragic tones, said, 
* Ladies and Gentlemen, unless the play is stopped, the child cannot 
possibly go on.' The effect on the audience of this earnest interference in 
favour of the child may be conceived." T. Moore. 



250 

Stephen Kemble. 1 

1758-1822. 

The countenance of Mr. Stephen Kemble was certainly hand- 
some, though not dark, like that of his elder brother. But 
his figure was encumbered with flesh ; there was nothing of the 
heroic in his proportion. But had he personated Achilles, and 
shouted at the door of his tent, he had equally struck a terror 
through the army, and probably the whole city of Troy. He 
appeared on the 24th of September, 1783, at Covent Garden 
Theatre, in the character of Othello, and thus by blacking his 
face parted with his only agreeable distinction. But he had 
nothing of the noble and discriminating character of his 
family at least, it did not enter into his acting. He was a 
man of sense, and even of some literary attainments ; but his 
declamation was coarse and noisy, and his vehement passion 
was too ungovernable for sympathy. Boaden. 

Stephen Kemble, who died in Durham, conducted the 
Sunderland circuit for years, and was also manager of the 
Glasgow Theatre. His Falstajf was an attraction ; for this 
gross character he could act without stuffing. There were 
others, too, he appeared in, such as OtJidlo and Hamlet. An 



1 Of Mrs. Stephen Kemble, a writer in BlackwoocTs Magazine, 1832, 
said : " There were few more delightful actresses in her clay. In speaking 
she had a clear silver voice, ' most musical, most melancholy ' (though 
she was not a little of a vixen, and in pure spite once almost bit a piece 
out of the shoulder of Henry Johnston, in Young Norval, while bending 
over ' my beautiful, my brave, ' in the maternal character of Lady Ran- 
dolph}, and she sung with the sweetest pathos. From many fair eyes now 
shut have we seen her Ophelia draw tears in the mad scene, and she was 
a delicious Juliet, and an altogether incomparable Yarico. Not so lovely 
as the fair O'Neill, nor so romantic, for she had borne children ; but her 
eyes had far more of that unconsciously alluring expression of innocence 
and voluptuousness which must have shown through the long fringes of 
the large lamping orbs (sic) of the fond Italian girl who at fourteen \vas a 
bride, and but for that fatal sleeping draught, ere fifteen would have been 
a mother. In Catherine, again, we have more than once been delighted 
to see her play the devil. To her it was not every man, we can assure 
you, that was able to be a Petruchio. In all the parts she played she was 
impassioned ; and all good judges who remember her will agree with us 
in thinking that she was an actress, not only of talent but of genius." Her 
maiden name was Satchell. Boaden is enthusiastic in her praise. ' 
"Life of Siddons," pp. 214, 215, vol. i. ED. 






Stephen Kemble. 25 r 

engraving is still in existence of Stephen Kemble in the Prince of 
Denmark, in an old-fashioned black coat, breeches, vest, shoes, 
buckles, and a large flowing auburn wig. I am not in possession 
of his costume for Othello, but should imagine from this that he 
dressed the noble Moor much as Garrick was in the habit of 
doing coat, breeches, and a white judge's wig. He selected 
white as it matched his complexion. What ideas they had of 
costume in those days! In 1815, in Scotland, I have seen 
Macbeth dressed in an officer's red coat, sash, blue pants, Hessian 
boots, and a cocked hat Stephen Kemble personated 
Othello one night in the Glasgow Theatre, and a circumstance 
occurred in the last scene which turned the tragedy into a 
comedy. When the bed of Desdemona was arranged, the 
property man, being a new hand, and in eager anxiety to have 
everything right and proper, fit for a chambre accouche, placed 
something under the bed which is always dispensed with. The 
curtain drew up and Kemble entered, speaking the soliloquy, 
" My soul, it is the cause, it is the cause !" A tittering took place, 
and then a laugh. Stephen Kemble stopped, looked around, 
and perceiving the cause of the hilarity, rushed off the stage, 
seized the unlucky property man by the neck as he would lago, 
and roared out, " Villain ! villain !" The terrified wretch cried, 
" Oh, sir, pardon me ! I assure you I couldn't get the loan of a 
white one anywhere." "Recollections of an Actor" Donaldson. 

Stephen Kemble was born immediately after the conclusion 
of the performance of Shakspeare's "Henry VIII.," in a small 
temporary theatre at Kingstown, Herefordshire, his mother 
having enacted Anna Bullen that night ; and Stephen was 
ushered into existence at the very period when, according to 
the play, the Princess Elizabeth is supposed to be born. 1 
Stephen married Miss Satchell, and their son Harry followed 
the dramatic fortunes of his father, for Mrs. S. Kemble 
was confined within two hours of her having performed Yarico 
at the Haymarket Theatre. Mr. Stephen Kemble, whose 
obesity unfitted him for the stage, was an actor of great talent, 
and an amiable man. On one occasion he offended Incledon, 
who having exhausted his memory for some tangible cause for 



1 This is as good as the Militia Captain, who exclaimed : " Talk of 
coincidences ! Why, sir, on the very day that Napoleon escaped from St. 
Helena I marched at the head of my regiment to Wormwood Scrubs I" 
ED. 



252 Stephen Kemble. 

reprehension, at last said, " In fact, no good can be expected 
of a fat fellow who never was shaved in his life /" Stephen had 
no beard. Records of a Veteran. 

Stephen Kemble has a soul under that load of fat, which 
soul will ooze out ; but John's is barred up by his ribs, a 
prisoner to his prudence. Edmund Kean. 

Stop we had forgotten Stephen the Fat, who used to play 
Falstaff. He had a fine face of his own, but that boundless 
belly spoiled everything. Yet we have seen him enact Hamlet 
for his own benefit 

" Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt, 
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!" 

was a wish that, if granted, had drowned the pit. Had he been 
a slim youth, he had been a capital actor, and could have 
played well Ranger or Young NorvaL For Stephen Kemble 
was a man of excellent talents, and taste too ; and we have a 
volume of his poems, presented to ourselves one evening after 
the play in the Shades at Whitehaven, in which there is con- 
siderable powers of language, and no deficiency either of 
feeling or of fancy. He had humour if not wit, and was a 
pleasant companion and worthy man. He was among the 
best of our provincial managers. John Wilson. 

In talking about Stephen Kemble, whose sole qualification 
for acting Falstaff was his being able to do it without stuffing, 
Luttrell 1 said, " The most difficult character I know to act 
without stuffing is a fillet of veal ! I have seen it attempted, 
but it failed." Moore's "Diary" 1824. 

One of the great Histrionic Dynasty, Stephen Kemble, has 
lately amused the town by his performance of Falstaff. He 
exhibited the humours of the jovial knight with skill enough to 
make the audience laugh. But he was perhaps the first actor 
who ever played the fat knight to the life. His remarkable 
corpulence qualified him to play the character without stuffing. 
The good humour of his visage was fully equalled by the pro 



- 



1 Henry Luttrell was a well-known wit, a regular habitut of Holla: 
House, and popular as a talkei', in days when the power of conversing 
well could confer fame. Lady Blessington probably paid him a just com- 
pliment when she said, " The conversation of Mr. Luttrell makes me think, 
while that of many others only amuses me." He died in 1851, in the 
eighty-first year of his age. He printed several performances, but nothing 
survives him. ED. 






Richard Sueii, 253 

tuberance of his stomach ; and if the " totus in se feres atqne 
rotuttdus" of Horace, is the poet's definition of a good man, 
the actor rose to the summit of human virtue. The besl 
prologue since the days of Garrick ushered in this singular 
performance : 

" A Falstaff here to-night by nature made, 
Lends to your favourite bard his ponderous aid. 
No man in buckram he : no stuffing gear 
No featherbed, nor e'en a pillow here ! 
But all gocxl honest flesh and blood and bone, 
And weighing, more or less some thirty stone. 
Upon the nor! hern o>a^t by chance we caught him, 
Ami hither in a brnad-wheel'd waggon brought him ; 
For in a chaise the varlet ne'er could enter, 
And no mail-coach on such a fare would venture. 
Blest with unwieldiness, at least his size 
Will favour find in every critic's eyes. 
And should his humours and his mimic art 
Bear due proportion to his outer part, 
As once 'twas said of Macklin in the Jew, 
' This is the very Falstaff Shakspeare drew.'" 

Recollections of a Lover of Society. 1 



Richard Suett. 
1758-1805. 

Shakspeare foresaw him when he framed his fools and 
jesters. They have all the true Suett stamp a loose and 
shambling gait, a slippery tongue this last the ready midwife 
to a without-pain-delivered jest in words light as air, venting 



1 The following brief notice of his death appeared in a contemporary 
paper : 

"At the Grove, near Durham, died George Stephen Kemble, Esq., 
after a short illness, aged sixty-five. The name which he bore was no 
ordinaiy one, and it buoyed him up when his merit as an actor would 
have availed him but little. His professional character is too well known 
to require observation. The last time he appeared on the stage was for the 
benefit of a part of his family, on the 2Oth of last month, when he per- 
formed Sir Christopher Curry in ' Inkle and Yarico.' He was then 
apparently in his usual state of health, but in a few days afterwards he was 
attacked by inflammation of the bowels, which disorder terminated his 
mortal existence on Wednesday afternoon, about four o'clock. In private 
life he was a social, lively companion." 



254 Richard Suett. 

truths deep as the centre ; with idlest rhymes tagging conceit 
when busiest ; singing with Lear in the tempest, or Sir Toby 
at the buttery-hatch. Charles Lamb. 

He was a person, when living, much liked by his theatrical 
brethren. Mrs. C. Mathews. 

They had both, 1 then very young men, been invited to 
attend the funeral of the "poor player" (Suett), and were 
placed in the same coach with Jack Bannister and Palmer. 
The latter sat wrapped up in angry and indignant silence at 
the tricks which the two younger mourners (who, by the way, 
had known but little of Suett) were playing ; but Bannister, 
though much affected, nevertheless could not refrain from 
occasionally laughing in the midst of his grief, while the tears 
were actually running from his eyes. At length, on the pro- 
cession reaching Fleet Street, on its way to St. Paul's church- 
yard, where Suett lies buried, Mr. Whittle, commonly called 
"Jemmy Whittle," of the firm of Laurie and Whittle, stationers, 
came to the door of his shop to see the remains of his old 
friend pass to their place of rest. An obstruction in the road 

at this moment caused a short delay ; when C called out, 

in the exact voice and manner of the dead man : " Aha ! 
Jemmy ; oh, law ! how do ? Oh, dear ! going to be buried ! 
Oh, law ! oh, lawk ! oh, dear !" a The astonished stationer 
rushed back to his house shocked, surprised, and possibly not 
a little alarmed at the sound of the familiar tones. It was a 
little singular that at the conclusion of the ceremony, as the 
benediction fell from the lips of the clergyman, a grinning 
urchin, perched on a tombstone close by the iron rails, began 
vigorously to clap his hands. So practical a compliance with 
the plaudUe at the actor's grave struck the whole company. 
The boy, however, on being questioned and taken to task for 
his irreverence, blubbered out, " La, sir, there was only them 
two dogs outside as wanted to fight, and was afeard to 



1 Namely, Charles Mathews and a friend, a Captain C , renowned 

for his imitation of Suett. ED. 

2 ' ' He was known, like Puck, by his note, Ha, ha ! sometimes deepening 
to Ho, ho, ho ! with an irresistible accession, derived, perhaps remotely, 
from his ecclesiastical education, foreign to his prototype of O Lai 
Thousands of hearts yet respond to the chuckling La ! of Dicky Suett, 
brought back to their remembrance by the faithful transcript of his friend 
Mathews's mimicry. The ' force of nature could no further go. ' He drolled 
upon the stock of these two syllables richer than the cuckoo," C. Lamb, 






Richard Suett. 255 

begin, so I just did it to set 'em on like." Barham's " Life of 



Few comedians have ever afforded more amusement than 
Suett. I cannot say that he was strongly characteristic, but 
ho was diverting to every description of audience. Boaden. 

The actors of the bygone day had a characteristic humour ; 
the public then thought more of their sayings, cared less for 
their doings. Men would rather record in my time the bright 
things or the merry stones that Suett uttered, than delight in 
expatiating on his love of the lasses or the bottle. It was 
impossible to remain for any length of time angry with him ; 
he had about him an unconsciousness of offending that dis- 
armed you. It is not generally known that Dicky, in a comic 
part, nearly "damned" " Pizarro" the first night; but so it 
v. as. The part was ill-written, and its introduction ill-timed ; 
and most furiously did the public hiss it. Sheridan was dis- 
tracted ; and Dicky, with the utmost gravity, said : " This 
comes of putting me into a German drama. You know, si**, 



1 The lives of most of our humorists exhibit but little room for merri- 
ment. You in vain seek for those pauses of distress which might enable 
the humorist to pass his joke and utter his laugh. What Hood said of 
himself, that his whole life was wasted in spitting puns and blood, seems 
true in a more or less severe sense of those who have made us laugh. In 
reading the life of Hook, you are pained to remark how much laughter is 
to be got out of his career of complicated misery his career of debt, 
poverty, imprisonment, and penury. It is like looking at the face of a 
clown from whose eyes the broad painted smile cannot rob the hunger and 
the anguish. It is easy to charge such a man as Hook with being the 
author of his own misfortunes. He should have practised economy ; he 
should have been regardful of his own interests. The truth is, he should 
not have been born with the nature that made it impossible for its flowers 
to blow but in the sunshine of pleasure. Remove from Hook that copious 
wit, that fertile fancy, that fervid brain, and you would have left him pro- 
bably as sturdy and steady an economist, as faithful and vigilant a watch- 
man of his own interests, as any merchant tailor or city magnate who ever 
piled a fortune of a hundred thousand pounds upon the boastful basis of a 
half-crown. For Hook it is impossible to claim genius. He was gifted 
with no great qualities. But what he wanted in value he made up in 
quantity. His mind was a garden in which bloomed a very great variety 
of plants, which had sprung, independent of culture, from a soil radically 
rich and generous. He must necessarily be injured in his reputation in the 
eyes of posterity, for he is remembered best by that which must be injurious 
to his dignity as a man of letters. Had he brought the same labour of 
judgment which he expended on his practical jokes to bear upon any one 
of his numerous powers, he might, perhaps, have achieved the highest dis- 
tinction in literature. ED. 



256 Joseph Munden. 

I know nothing of German." Poor Suett had no wit, but an 
infinitude of humour. Parsons used to say that Suett walked 
like a camel- leopard. 1 Records of a Stage Veteran. 

The very personification of weak whimsicality, with a laugh 
like a peal of giggles. Mathews gives him to the life. 
Leih Hunt. 

Joseph Munden. 
1758-1832. 

There is one face of Farley, one face of Knight, one (but 
what a one it is !) of Listen ; but Munden has none that you 
can properly pin down and call his. When you think he has 
exhausted his battery of looks in unaccountable warfare with 
your gravity, suddenly he sprouts out an entirely new set of 
features, like Hydra. He is not one, but legion ; not so much 
a comedian as a company. If his name could be multiplied 
like his countenance, it would fill a playbill. He, and he alone, 
literally makes faces ; applied to any other person, the phrase 
is a mere figure, denoting certain modifications of the human 
countenance. Out of some invisible wardrobe he dips for 
faces, as his friend Suett used for wigs, and fetches them out 
as easily. I should not be surprised to see him some 
day put out the head of a river-horse, or come forth a 



1 Suett could tell a capital story. The following he would relate inimi- 
tably : Among Astley's equestrians were many Jews, who, when they 
accompanied him to the provinces, left their families behind them. A Mr. 
Cohen thus left a wife and large family whilst he was figuring away at 
Liverpool. In about six weeks time Mrs. Cohen wrote a lamentable 
history of the family afflictions, commencing at the very top of a sheet of 
foolscap, and covering over three sides and a half with details of the 
numerous wants of Lypey, Rachel, Israel, &c. This manuscript was trans- 
mitted to Cohen through Mr. Villiers, the London agent. Shortly after 
Mrs. Cohen called upon the agent, and said, "Look ye here; see vat a 
villin it is, Mr. Villis." "My name is Villiers," says the agent. "I 
knows it is, but I says Villis for short. See vat a villin it is here's the 
answer ;" saying which she produced a large sheet of paper, on the centre 
of which was simply written, " Write me no more nunsinc" (nonsense). 
Another story of Suett's was of a landlady of his, who was a great lover 
of gin. He would overhear her say, " Betty, go and get a quartern loaf 
and half a quartern of gin." Off started Betty ; she was soon recalled. 
" Betty, make it half a quartern loaf and a quartern of gin." Betty started 
again, again to be recalled. "Betty, on second thoughts, you may 
well make it all gin," 



.ay as 



Joseph Munden. 257 

I)ewit, or lapwing, some feathered metamorphosis. Charles 
La nib. 

Mr. Munden was a great actor, and unlike the generality of 
" low comedians" (that is, the representatives of broad comedy 
and farce), was really fond of acting a rare instance in that 
line of the drama. Liston, Mathews, and many others, after 
their early furor subsided, became reluctant and dejected 
promoters of the public mirth. Mr. Munden, however, unlike 
these, was an actor per se, and might be said to have heart and 
soul in his vocation. Although it was believed that, for many 
years past, Mammon led him on, still it is certain, independent 
of any other guide than his own fancy, he followed his art con 
amore. Every playgoer of his time must have seen Mr. 
Munden perform Obadiah in " The Committee, or Honest 
Thieves" (if not, they are now to be pitied) ; and who of those 
has not a recollection also of the incomparable Johnstone 
(Irish Johnstone) in Teague, picturesquely draped in his blanket, 
and pouring forth his exquisite humour and mellifluous brogue 
in equal measure? Mrs. C. Mathcws, " Tea-Table Talk." 

A little while previous to Munden's retirement his health 
was precarious, and Elliston agreed, in consequence, to give 
Munden io/. per night, instead of a settled weekly salary. The 
number of nights not being specified, the lessee only called 
upon the veteran's services when he imperatively required 
them. This, as Munden recovered, was wormwood to him. 
However, the time of retribution arrived. His Majesty bespoke 
a play and farce ; Elliston omitted Munden's name, because 
the house would assuredly be full to the ceiling, and employ- 
ing Munden would be throwing io/. away. But in the 
green-room a notice was affixed, desiring all the company to 
"attend to sing the National Anthem." This was enough: 
Munden joined the group, and on the strength of the mana- 
gerial notice, claimed and received his io/. that night. 
Records of a Stage Veteran? 

1 Munden had an unpleasant way of discouraging, if not of extinguishing, 
the flame of ambition in the youthful dramatic author's breast. During a 
green-room reading of a comedy he would sit making hideous faces, and 
when the three or five acts were concluded, plaintively remark, "My 
precious eyes, sir, but where's the comedy ?" 

Cherry once formed the scheme of taking a company to Calcutta. The 
terms talked of were in keeping with the land of silver fountains and 
golden sands. A lac of rupees was offered to the ' ' walking gentle- 

si 



258 yoseph Munden. 

Munden was one night playing with Jack Johnstone in 
" The Committee ;" in that scene where Teague plies Obadiah 
with liquor from a black bottle, Johnstone, who played Teague, 
was surprised to remark the extraordinary grimaces Munden 
made over the draughts he gulped down. So irresistibly 
comical, indeed, were Munden's grimaces, that not only did 
the audience shriek with laughter, but Johnstone was almost 
too convulsed to proceed. When the scene was over, Obadiah, 
as usual, was borne off the stage ; but no sooner was he out of 
sight of the audience than he commenced bellowing for a 
stomach-pump. " I'm a dead man !" he shouted. " I'm 
poisoned ! Where's the villain that filled that bottle ?" And 
then in an agony of disgust, pointing to the empty bottle, still 
in Johnstone's hand, he cried, "Lamp-oil! lamp-oil! every 
drop of it." It was true : the property-man had mistaken a 
bottle containing lamp-oil for one half filled with sherry and 
water. When Munden had in some measure recovered, 
Johnstone naturally asked him why he should, after the first 
taste, have allowed him to pour the whole of the filthy stuff 
down his throat, when the slightest hint would have prevented 
it. Munden's reply, in gasps, was as follows : " My dear 
boy, I was about to do so ; but there was such a glorious roar 
B.t the first face I made upon swallowing it, that I hadn't the 
heart to spoil the scene by interrupting the effect, though I 
thought I should die every time you poured the accursed stuff 
down my throat." 

Munden used to wheedle Moncrieff out of a comic song for 
his benefit. " Dang it, my boy," he would cry, " you're a lad 
after my own soul, sir. I knew O'Keefe, sir, and George 
Colman, sir, and every one of them, sir, in their best days ; 
but by the Lord Harry, sir, none of 'em could write me off a 
song like you, sir." Moncrieff, at last, grew tired of being paid 
in this coin; and when Joe came as usual for his annual song, 
the dramatist hinted, with great delicacy, that a pecuniary 



man." " What is a lac of rupees ?" asked the actor to whom Cherry made 
the proposal. " Do you know what a lack of money is?" asked Munden. 
"Yes." "Well, a lac of rupees means exactly the same thing." 

Munden had a foolish way of boasting of his ignorance. ' ' I never read 
any book but a play," said this son of a poulterer ; "no play but one in 
which I myself acted, and no portion of that play but my own scenes." 
When this was told to Charles Lamb, he said, " I knew Munden well, and 
/ believe him. " ED. 



Munihn. 

recompense would be more grateful to his feelings. Munden 
suddenly remembered a pressing engagement, and Vanished. 

Suun alter Munden retired from the stage, an admirer met 
him in Covent Garden. It was a wet day, and each of the 
gentlemen carried an umbrella. The admirer's was an ex- 
pen.Mve silk; Joe's an old gingham. "So you have left the 
stage for ever, sir?" " Yes, sir, yes ; I am getting old, you see, 
and the gout, sir, the gout." " Ah, we shall never see your 
like again. I'olonius, and Jemmy Jumps, Old Dor n ton, 
Crack, and a dozen others, in whose company I have passed 
many a happy hour, have all left the world with you. I wish 
you'd give me some trifle by way of memorial, Munden." 
" Trifle, sir ?" " Ay, any little thing by way of keepsake." 

" Faith, sir, I've got nothing that " " Oh, search your 

pockets." " There are so many thieves about, that but 
hold ! suppose, sir egad ! suppose we exchange umbrellas !" 
Theatrical Anecdotes. 

He was the son of a poulterer in Brook's Market, Leather 
Lane, Holborn, and was born in the early part of 1758; his 
father died when he was young, and at the age of twelve young 
Joe was placed in an apothecary's shop ; but becoming tired of 
physic, he turned his attention to the law. From an attorney's 
office he descended to a law-stationer's shop, and became 
what is termed a " hackney writer ;" to one of the fraternity in 
Chancery Lane he was ultimately apprenticed. He was at 
this time a great admirer of Garrick, whose powers he well re- 
membered, and used to dilate upon ; this gave him the first 
desire for the stage. He was for some time a clerk in the 
office of the town-clerk of Liverpool; but his first regular 
engagement on the boards was as the representative of old men 
at Leatherhead. He had the actor's customary provincial 
round at the theatres, and soon became a partner in the 
Sheffield Theatre. ' On December 2nd, 1790, a few nights after 
Incledon's appearance, Munden made his bow to the Covent 
Garden audience as Sir Francis Gripe, in the " Busybody," 
and Jemmy Jumps in the " Farmer." He was the original 
representative of Old Rapid, Caustic, Lazarillo (in "Two 
Strings to your Bow'!), Nipperkin, Sir Abel Handy, and Old 
Dornton, besides a host not now remembered. In 1813, in 
consequence of a quarrel respecting the amount of his salary, 
he joined the Drury Lane Company, making his first appear- 
ance there in Sir Abel Handy. Here he remained until the 

s 2 



260 Joseph Mitnderi. 

3ist of May, 1824, when he took his farewell of the public in 
the character at Sir Robert -Bramble, in the " Poor Gentleman." 
He was an excellent comic actor, and in some of his parts un- 
rivalled. In private life he was generally esteemed by a very 
numerous circle of acquaintance, not more on account of his 
convivial qualities than for others more substantial. Memoir 
of Joseph Shepherd Munden, 1832. 

Mr. Munden was by far the greatest comedian we .ever saw ; 
his vein of humour was the richest and most peculiar ; his 
range of character the most extensive ; his discrimination the 
most exact and happy, and his finishing the most elaborate and 
complete. He received great advantages from nature, and 
improved them to the utmost by vigilant observation and 
laborious study. His power of face was most extraordinary ; 
for he had no singularity of feature no lucky squint or 
mechanical grin ; but the features which, when at rest, befitted 
well the sedate merchant, or baronet, of the old school, assumed 
at his will the strangest and the most fantastic forms. This 
almost creative faculty was associated with another power of an 
opposite kind ; the capability of imparting to every variety of 
form a substance and apparent durability as if it were carved 
out of a rock. His action had no less body than flavour. 
In the wildest parts of farce he every minute put forth 
some living fantasy of his own, some . new arrangement 
of features, creations among which Momus would have hesi- 
tated long which he should choose for his own proper use, as 
embodying most general traits of comic feeling. Any one 
of these hundred faces might serve as the model of a mask 
for the old Greek comedy, and looked as immovable while 
it lasted. And yet this marvellous power of spreading out 
before the eye the products of a rich comic imagination this 
working out of breathing farces, which Aristophanes would have 
been pleased to gaze on, was set down as vulgar grimace by 
those who fancy the perfection of one excellence implies the 
absence of all others ; and who will not be persuaded, even by 
their senses, that the same man can be Nipperkin and Dornton I 
Although Mr. Munden's humour and his flexibility of 
countenance were the gifts which chiefly distinguished him from 
others, he shared largely in that pathos which belongs in a 
greater or less degree to all true comedians. It is natural that 
a strong relish for the ludicrous should be accompanied by a 
genuine pathos, as both arise from quick sensibility to th 



a 



Elr.aMh Far r en* 261 

peculiarities of our fellow-men, and the joys and sorrows by 
which they are affected. Those who are endowed with such 
qualities too often presume upon their strength, and rely on 
the individual effects which they can produce in their happiest 
moods, Hut Mr. Munden had a higher sense of the value of 
his art than to leave his success to accident, or to rest con- 
tented with doing something to make an audience laugh or 
weep without reference to the precise nature of the conception 
which he professed to embody. He studied his parts, in the 
best sense of the term, and with as careful and minute attention 
as though he were the driest and most mechanical of actors. 
When he had fully mastered the outlines of a part, he cast into 
it just so much of his resources of humour or of feeling as was 
necessary to give it genial life, and to discriminate its finest 
shades, and never enough to destroy its individuality, or melt 
down its distinctive features. In nothing did he more delight- 
fully exhibit his skill than in the little sprinklings of humour 
which he threw into his sedater parts, endearing and fami- 
liarizing them to us, yet never allowing us to abate a jot of the 
respect or sympathy which' they were intended to awaken. 
T. N. Talfowd. 

Elizabeth Farren (Countess of Derby). 
1759-1829. 

Her figure is considerably above the middle height, and is 
of that slight texture which allows the use of full and flowing 
drapery. Her face, though not regularly beautiful, is animated 
and prepossessing ; her eye, which is blue and penetrating, is 
a powerful feature when she chooses to employ it on the public, 
and either flashes with spirit or melts with softness, as its 
mistress decides on the expression she wishes to convey. Her 
voice we never thought to possess much sweetness, but it is 
refined and feminine ; and her smiles fascinate the heart as 
her form delights the eye. In short, a more complete exhibi- 
tion of graces and accomplishments never presented itself for 
admiration before the view of an audience. 1 New Monthly 
Magazine, 1829. 

1 Mrs. Inchbald used to tell the following story of Miss Farren : " To 
have fixed the degrees and shades of female virtue possessed at this time 
by the actresses of the Haymarket Theatre would have been employment 



262 Elizabeth farren. 






On the 7th of April, 1797, she took her final leave of the 
stage in the above-named character (Lady Teazle) before a 
fashionable and crowded audience at Drury Lane Theatre. It 
was remarked that Miss Farren had never performed with 
greater animation and better spirits than on this occasion ; nor, 
until the play drew near to the close, was the least alteration 
observable ; her manner then visibly changed indeed she 
became unable to conceal how deeply she was affected. Her 
concluding words (for such they proved) which conveyed Lady 
Teazle's valedictory address to Lady Sneerwell, the latter portion 
of which might seem applicable to her present situation, were 
delivered by Miss Farren falteringly. " Let me also request, 
Lady Sneerwell, that you will make my respects to the scanda- 
lous college of which you are a member, and inform them that 
Lady Teazle, licentiate, begs leave to return the diploma they 
granted her, as she leaves off practice and kills characters no 
longer." A passionate burst of tears here revealed the sensi- 
bility of the speaker; while a stunning burst of a more cheering 
though not less feeling nature, from the audience, followed, 
and no more of the play was listened to. Mrs. C. Mathews? 



for an able casuist. One evening, about half an hour before the curtain 
was drawn up, some accident having happened in the dressing-room of 
one of the actresses, a woman of known intrigue, she ran in haste to the 
dressing-room of Mrs. Wells, to finish the business of her toilet. Mrs. 
Wells, who was the mistress of the well-known Captain Topham, shocked 
at the intrusion of a reprobated woman who had a worse character than 
herself, quitted her own room and ran to Miss Farren's, crying, ' What 
would Captain Topham say if I were to remain in such company ?' No 
sooner had she entered the room, to which as an asylum she had fled, 
than Miss Farren flew out of the door, repeating, ' What would Lord 
Derby say if I should be seen in such company ?' " ED. 

1 Boaden cynically tells the rest of the story : " Instead of the usual 
rhymes at the end of the play, the whole of the dramatis persona remain- 
ing in their stations, Mr. Wroughton advanced and addressed to the 
audience the following personalities as to Miss Farren, for them to ratify 
if they approved them : 

" ' But, ah ! this night adieu the mournful mien, 

When Mirth's loved favourite quits the mimic scene ! 

[Looking ttnvards Miss Farren, -who stood supported 

by King and Miss Miller.] 
Startled Thalia would assent refuse, 
But Truth and Virtue sued and won the Muse.' 

T cannot but think this too strongly, however truly, put, the lady being 
herself present. He then spoke her acknowledgments, which she declined 



Elizabeth Farren. 263 

Whilst Mrs. Siddons might be said thus to struggle to keep 
up with her own the fame of English tragedy, the other muse 
was about to suffer a loss which thirty years have scarcely 
shown a tendency to replace. I mean the elevation of Miss 
Karren to a coronet by her marriage with the Earl of Derby, 
in the year 1797. Perhaps I do not refer effects to causes in- 
adequate to their production when I say that this theatrical 
demise absolutely produced the degeneracy of comedy into farce. 
The litdy of our Congreves lost that court-like refinement in 
manners, that polished propriety in speech the coarser parts 
in comedy were forced forward without a balance, without 
contrast cultivated life on the stage became insipid as soon 
as its representative was without the necessary charms. 
Boadcn. 

Miss Farren, then in her teens, made her debut (1777) as 
Miss Hardcastle, in Goldsmith's comedy of " She Stoops to 
Conquer," as appears by Mr. Winston's note. She con- 
quered so much subsequently in the superior walk of comedy 
that she might have stooped in resuming this character, although 
it is worthy the acceptance of an actress of great ability. She 
came most opportunely to prevent a chasm which would have 
been greatly lamented ; and to personate modern females of 
fashion when the retirement of the Abington, with the viellecour, 
was approaching. To dilate upon the history of the lovely 
and accomplished Miss Farren would be very superfluous ; no 
person ever has more successfully performed the elegant levities 
of Lady Townly upon the stage, or more happily practised the 
amiable virtues of Lady Grace in the highest circles of society. 
George Cohnan. 

At the early age of fourteen, her first appearance was at the 
Haymarket Theatre, then under the management of the elder 
Colman, in the character of Miss Hardcastle, in Goldsmith's 
comedy of " She Stoops to Conquer." That season produced 
at the same time Henderson and Edwin. In the winter of that 
year Miss Farren went to Liverpool, where she appeared in 
Rosetta, a character afterwards repeated in London with great 
success. But the part which at once' established her fame as 



doing for herself, and then the Countess-elect advanced, and curtsied to 
*ie right, to the left, and the front, as is usual upon occasions of high 
stage ceremonial." Boaden fixes the 8th of April as the day of her retire- 
ment. ED. 



264 Elizabeth Farren. 

an actress was Lady Townly, which we owe to the inimitable 
Parsons, who, with infinite difficulty, prevailed upon her to try 
it for his benefit. The whole house was enraptured with her 
performance, and Miss Farren was engaged on that night for 
both the winter theatres, and played alternately at Drury Lane 
and Covent Garden the first characters in tragedy as well as 
comedy. On the secession of Mrs. Abington from Drury Lane, 
Miss Farren succeeded to all her principal parts, and at that 
theatre she remained until her marriage with Earl Derby. She 
was the Oldfield of her day. It was well said of her by an 
eminent critic, that in her performances Miss Farren never de- 
viated from the walk for which art as well as nature designed her \ 
that were we to collect every idea which has been suggested to 
us by books, or has been the result of our own observations on 
life, assisted by all that the imagination could conceive of a 
woman of fashion, we should find every idea realized and every 
conception embodied in the person and acting of Miss Farren. 
She continued to occupy the highest fame in genteel comedy 
to the end of her theatrical career. Miss Farren's last per- 
formances were : March 3oth, 1797, Violante; April ist, Maria, 
in " The Citizen ;" 3rd, Estifania; 4th, Susan, in " The Follies 
of a Day ;" 6th, Bizarre, in " The Inconstant ;" and finally on 
the 8th Lady Teazle. Memoir of Elizabeth, Countess of Derby, 
I829. 1 

Miss Farren is as excellent as Mrs. Oldfield, because she has 
lived with the best style of men in England. H. Walpole. 



1 Writing of "The School for Scandal" in Miss Farren's day, Lamb 
says : "No piece was perhaps ever so completely cast in all its parts as this 
manager's comedy. Miss Farren had succeeded to Mrs. Abington in Lady 
Teazle, and Smith, the original Charles, had retired when I first saw it. 
The rest of the characters, with very slight exceptions, remained. I re- 
member it was then the fashion to cry down John Kemble, who took the 
part of Charles after Smith ; but, I thought, very unjustly. The original 
cast of this comedy, as it was acted in 1777, stood as follows : Sir Peter 
Teazle, King ; Sir Oliver Surface, Yates ; Sir Harry Bumper, Gawdry ; 
Sir Benjamin Backbite, Dodd ; Joseph Surface, J. Palmer ; Charles Sur- 
face, Smith ; Snake, Packer ; Crabtree, Parsons ; Rowley, Aickin ; Moses, 
Baddeley ; Trip, Lamash ; Lady Teazle, Mrs. Abington ; Lady Sneerwell, 
Miss Sherry; Mrs. Candour, Miss Pope; Maria, Miss P. Hopkins." 






265 
Mrs. Davenport 



On the 24th of September, 1794, Mrs Davenport, an actress 
of infinite merit, made her first appearance at Covent Garden 
Theatre, in which she acted six-and-thirty years. She came to 
London as a substitute for Miss Webb ; but the substitute, like 
the soldier so called in the militia, was infinitely more fit for 
the duty than the overgrown original had ever been. She had 
a very acute perception of comic humour, and a strength and 
earnestness that always carried the dialogue home. Her dibut 
was in the Mrs. Hardcastle of " Sh: Stoops to Conquer." Quick, 
among our actors, seemed her natural counterpart. I believe 
this lady, in her long professional career, gave less trouble than 
had ever been remarked, to either manager, actor, or author 
she loved her business, and did it well and cheerfully. Boaden. 

Next to Fawcett's closing night, came that of Mrs. Daven- 
port, who on this occasion took her first, her last, her only 
benefit, and made her final curtsey to a most elegant and 
crowded house. Remembering how much she has enlivened our 
merrier moments, we rather wish that she had taken leave of 
us in some stirring comedy than in a tragedy of such engrossing 
interest as " Romeo and Juliet," where her part of the nurse 
rather frets and irritates us, as interfering with the deep passion, 
and as surrounding Juliet with images of impurity. We 
would rather think of her as Mrs. Heidelberg, or Mrs. Mala- 



1 In assigning dates to the various actors I have been struck by the 
numerous instances of longevity that have occurred in theatrical life. Take 
the following as samples : Wilkes lived 88 years, Quin 73, Garrick 65, 
Mrs. Clive 75, Beard 75, Rich 70, Macklin 107, Betterton 75, Mrs. 
Siddons 77, Quick 80, Colley Gibber 86, King 78, Cumberland 79, 
Dibdin 74, Hull 76, Murphy 78, Yates 97, Bannister 77, G. Bartley 74, 
Miss Bartley 64, Mrs. Bracegirdle, 85, Braham 79, Dowton 88, Farren 
85, Mrs. Garrick 98, Mrs. Glover 68, Harley 72, Incledon 69, Jack John- 
stone 78, Keeley 75, Listen 69, A. Pope 73, J. Russell 79, Mrs. Sparkes 
83, Lee Sugg 85, W. Vining 78, H. J. Wallack 78, Mrs. Wallack 90, 
James Wallack 73, and many more. Of these a greater number \vere before 
the public until within a few years, and in numerous instances within a few 
months, of their death. In our own day this rule of longevity for rule 
it absolutely seems is illustrated in those veterans, Buckstone, whose first 
appearance in London was in 1823 ; Benjamin Webster, 1818 ; Compton, 
iSj7 ; Walter Lacy, 1838. ED. 



266 Jack Bannister. 

prop, speaking with her prodigious emphasis that commentary 
on the she-dragon " He means me, sir !" or as the respectable 
hostess in " Husbands and Wives," unconsciously making the 
oddest arrangements for the accommodation of her guests ; or 
as fifty other fine and furious old ladies whose looks she has 
engraved on our memories; Her address was short and sen- 
sible ; she alluded to her infirmities lightly ; and took her leave 
amidst the heartiest wishes of the house for her comfort in her 
age. In many respects she was worthy of imitation; she 
took every part allotted to her, did her best with all, and 
adhered steadily to one establishment instead of creating a 
transitory interest, or seeking a higher salary by changing. So 
she took root at Covent Garden ; and now she is gone will be 
missed and mourned more perhaps than actors of higher pre- 
tension, who have been agreeable vagrants at many theatres 
without gaining a settlement in any. Talfonrd. 

Jack Bannister. 
1760-1836. 

Jack Bannister, in the beginning of this century, paid 
Nottingham a starring visit ; and having heard Robertson sing 
" Beggars and Ballad Singers," that celebrated comedian re: 
quested a copy, as at this time it was not in type. Robertson 
readily obliged him. The following season at Drury Lane, 
Bannister sang Robertson's song; and what words could 
describe Jemmy's surprise when he beheld the words and music 
of " Beggars and Ballad Singers " published, and Bannister's 
name inserted as the author? He could get no redress, 
although he agitated in the aifair. 1 W. Donaldson. 

Bannister was certainly not the chief of convulsively droll 
actors ; but he was, to my humble taste, something better one 
who made you forget that you were looking at a play. He was 
pure hilarity, and plain English nature. Without a trait of 
grimace on his comely countenance, he always came in as if he 
had been breathing the fresh air of the country ; and he was 
more than an actor, by seeming to be no actor at all, but a 



1 Robertson was manager of the Stamford Theatre. He was himself 
the author of the song which Bannister appropriated. En. 



Jack Bannister. 267 

gloriously pleasant fellow, helping you to enjoy a joke. 1 
T. Campbell. 

He began his own stage career in tragedy, and played the 
hero in Voltaire's " Mahomet." Garrick, who had trained him 
to the part, met him the next day, after he had acquired some 
applause in "Mahomet," and asked him, with his usual 
abundance of gestures, and eh, chs, what character he wished 
to play next. "Why," said Bannister, "I was thinking of 
Oroiwoko"* " Eh," said David, staring at Bannister, who was 
at that time very thin, " you will look as much like Oroonoko 
as a chimney-sweeper in consumption." Bannister told me that 
at these words of Garrick his knees slackened, and he had 
almost sunk down on the pavement. At another interview he 
ventured to tell the Knglish Roscius that he had some thoughts 
of attempting comedy. "Eh, eh!" said Garrick, "why, no, 
don't think of that, you may humbug the town some time 
longer as a tragedian ; but comedy is a serious thing, so don't 
try it yet." Bannister however attempted comedy, and his 
Don Wliiskcrandos* (as he himself says) laughed his tragedy out 
cf fashion. 4 Ibid. 

Bannister is in many parts a judicious actor, as well as an 
agreeable singer of such songs as please an English audience. 
T. Davies. 

From my first knowledge of Bannister to the present hour, 
he made his prudence a guard over his festivity ; and though no 
man was ever more solicited in social life, his amusements 
neither disturbed his business nor deranged his circumstances ; 
he could always dispense the liberal aid which he did not need, 
and never drew on himself, in a single instance that I can 
remember, the displeasure of the public. Being his con- 
temporary through no trivial series of years, I remember him in 



1 Ma thews wrote to his wife from Stratford, " Bannister went (to the 
house where Shakspeare was bom) after dinner for the third time in one 
day, threw himself upon the bed in which the clear lying old woman swears 
Shakspeare was born nay, shows the chair he was nursed in. But Jack 
threw himself in his drunken raptures on the bed, and nearly smothered 
two children, who were asleep till his raptures awoke them." ED. 

2 By Thomas Southerne. 
8 A character in Sheridan's " Critic." 

4 Bannister used to tell the story thus : "I was a student of painting in 
the Royal Academy when I was introduced to Mr. Garrick, under whose 
superior genius the British stage then flourished beyond all former example. 
One morning I was shown into his dressing-room when he was before the 



2b8 Jack Bannister. 

tragedy, and am not sorry that he put off the buskin early in 
his career. The genius of John Bannister met with a congenial 
author in Mr. Prince Hoare, who may, perhaps, as a farce 
writer, be said to have best suited his talents. But this palm 
is powerfully contested by very able men. Yet whatever contest 
may exist among the writers of farce, there is none whatever, 
where Bannister is concerned, among the performers. I have 
seen no actor at all near him where he was fully himself. 
Boaden. 

September 3oth, 1826. Met Bannister by accident in 
Chenies Street, Bedford Square. His face was as fresh, his eye 
as keen, and his voice as musical as ever. I had not seen 
him for years. He held out his hand just as he used to do on 
the stage, with the same frank, native truth. As he spoke, the 
tones of his favourite Walter^ pierced my heart. It was 



glass preparing to shave : a white nightcap covered his forehead, his chin 
and cheeks were covered with soap-suds, a razor-cloth was placed upon his 
left shoulder, and he turned and smoothed the shining blade with so much 
dexterity that I longed for a beard to imitate his incomparable method of 
handling the razor. 

" ' Eh ! well what ! young man so eh? You are still for the stage? 
Well, now what character do you should you like to eh ?' 

'"I should like to attempt Hamlet, sir?' 

" ' Eh ! what, Hamlet the Dane? Zounds ! that's a bold a Have 

you studied the part?' 'I have, sir.' 'Well, don't mind my shaving. 
Speak your speech the speech to the Ghost ; I can hear you. Come, 
let's have a roll and a tumble.' After a few hums and haws, and a disposing 
of my hair so that it might stand on end, ' like quills upon the fretful 
porcupine,' I supposed my father's ghost before me, armed cap-a-pie, and 
off I started. I concluded with the usual, 

* Say, why is this ? wherefore ? what should we do ?' 

but still continued in my attitude, expecting the praise due to an exhibition 
which I was booby enough to fancy was only to be equalled by himself. 
But to my eternal mortification, he turned quick upon me, brandished the 
razor in his hand, and thrusting his half-shaved face close up to mine, he 
made such horrible mouths at me that I thought he was seized with 
insanity, and I showed more natural symptoms of being frightened at him 
than at my father's ghost. ' Angels and ministers ! yaw ! yaw ! yaw ! 
maw !' However, I soon perceived my vanity by his ridicule. He 
finished shaving, put on his wig, and with a smile of good nature he took 
me by the hand. ' Come,' said he, 'young gentleman eh, let us see now 
what we can do. ' HE spoke the speech how he spoke it those who have 
heard him never can forget. 'There,' said he, 'young gentleman; and 
when you try that speech again, give it more passion and less mouth. ' " 
ED. 

1 In "The Babes of the Wood." 



Jack Bannister. 269 

extraordinary the effect " Bannister," said I, " your voice 
recalls my early days." " Ah," said he, "I had some touches, 
had I not ?" He told me a story of Lord KLjreinont. Bannister 
bought at Sir Joshua's sale the Virgin and Child. He sent 
it to a sale at a room for 2507. Lord E. told the seller 
he would give 200. It was agreed to. Lord Egremont 
afterwards said to Bailey, " I have bought Reynolds's Virgin 
and Child." "Ah," said Bailey, "it was Bannister's picture. 
You gave 2507." He said nothing, but the same day wrote 
to I'.annister he was ashamed to have offered less, and sent him 
a cheque for the 5o/. owing. I said to Bannister, as Napoleon 
said to Talma, "We are talking history; I shall put this 
down." " Shall ye though ?" said he, as his face flushed. 
" That I will," said I ; and he hobbled off with a sort of 
wriggling enjoyment. His acting was delightful ; and his 
tones to-day accounted for his fame. They were as a man's, 
something like Mrs. Jordan's as a woman. B. JR. Haydon. 

After his long-established celebrity as a comedian, and the 
regret felt by lovers of the drama on his retirement from the 
stage, it is curious to recur to his earliest days in the Hay- 
market Theatre ; when he was frequently tied to a sword, and 
rammed into a full-dress coat, to represent Lord Falbridge 
in " The English Merchant," and other deadly lively characters, 
little above those which are called, in stage language, 
" walking gentlemen." There was a very persevering, sky- 
coloured suit of laced clothes, which was always lugged out of 
the Haymarket wardrobe for him upon such occasions ; and 
Jack Bannister, in his light blue and silver, with a sword by his 
side, was, to all play-goers of that time, as infallible a token of 
a clever young actor in a wrong part, as deep mourning is a sign of 
a death in a family. But in the course of some nights, when he 
was thus misplaced, he often performed some other character 
effective in itself, and rendered more so by his own powers. 
George Colman. 

Bannister was remarkably handsome, even as an old man ; 
his dark eyes still full of animation, were more striking from the 
contrast with his white hair. His nature was a thoroughly 
genial one. " When I first attracted notice on the stage," he 
said, " I was . told of such-and-such people who were my 
enemies ; but I never would listen to such reports, for I was 
determined to go through life without enemies ; and I havf 
E ,o " lie said to Constable^ "They say it is my \\ife who 



270 Jack Bannister. 

has taken care of my money, and made -me comfortable in my 
old age ; and so she has ; but I think I deserve a little of the 
credit, for I let her." C. R. Leslie, " Autobiography, ." 

Of another comic favourite who entered the lists with this 
celebrated trio (i.e. Parsons, Quick, and Edwin), and nobly 
supported the fight, I have before spoken to Bannister junior, 
I allude. But I must not forget here to add that he possessed 
what they "upon the adverse faction" wanted, strong serio- 
comic power ; and that his personation of the character of a 
sailor was certainly superior to that of any other actor on the 
stage. I do not allude to our modern trap-clapping sailors ; 
impostors in a blue jacket and trousers, who vociferate a 
certain number of slang nautical phrases ; who, with their 
elbows bang their tobacco-boxes, put quids in their mouths, 
pull up their trousers, and, boasting of " Britannia's wooden 
walls," and "Albion's matchless glory," swagger up to the 
lamps, exclaiming, " There's a sailor for you !" No, I allude to 
the genuine Jack Tar, particularly Congreve's Ben; in that 
legitimate sailor, Bannister was inimitable. 1 Indeed the love- 
scene between him and Miss Prue, when this latter part was 
acted by Mrs. Jordan, was probably never surpassed in rich 
natural comedy. F. Reynolds. 

About 1808 he was persuaded to give an entertainment by 
himself, and accordingly employed the talent of George 
Colman and others to prepare him one, which he subsequently 
delivered at the Freemasons' Tavern, the London, and various 
other places in town, and in all the principal provincial cities. 
In it he gave a mimetic representation of his first audience with 
Garrick ; this Quick and Whitbread declared " was not imitation 
but identity." Bannister's Budget differed essentially from 
Mathews's "At Home;" the former being a blending of 
serious and comic stories, the latter, if we except " Mallet " 



1 "For what \sBen the pleasant sailor which Bannister gives us but 
a piece of satire a creation of Congreve's fancy a dreamy combination 
of all the accidents of a sailor's character, his contempt of mon-ey, his 
credulity to women, with that necessaiy estrangement from home ? . . . . 
We never think the worse of Ben for it, or feel it as a stain upon his 
character. But when an actor comes, and instead of the delightful phantom 
the creature dear to half belief which Bannister exhibited, displays 
before our eyes a downright concretion of a Wapping sailor .... we 
want him turned out. We feel that his true place is not behind the curtain, 
but in the first or second gallery." -,C. Lamb, 






A lexander Pope. 2 7 1 

and the "Yorkshire Gambler," exclusively comic. Mathews 
was by many decrees the greater mimic, but Bannister was the 
pleasanter fellow ; Mathews made you laugh more, bnt he 
altogether satisfied you less. Public taste underwent a great 
change between 1808 and 1830. Mathews's jokes would not 
have been taken in the former year, and Bannister's Budget 
would be "Hat, stale, and unprofitable" now. Recollections oj 
Bwni&r. 

Alexander Pope. 
1762-1835. 

Pope had a handsome face, good person, genteel figure, and 
graceful action ; his voice possessed a firmness, and in the softer 
tones called the soul-moving Barry to the recollection of his 
hearers. But his countenance was scarcely sufficiently ex- 
pressive to give full effect to the passions of grief, joy, or 
disdain. The Managers Note- Book? 

Pope was a great gourmand f he carried his inclination that 
way so far as occasionally to make himself unpopular even to 
the extent of losing several worthy friends. Kean, Pope, and 
Catalani were one day invited to dine with Jones, the Dublin 
manager, at his house, a mile or two from Dublin, with some 
of the first people. It was not long after dinner when Pope 
asked Kean what time he had ordered the carriage ? Kean re- 
plied, at eleven. At Pope's request it was sent for directly, 
and they departed. As they were returning, Kean asked Pope 



1 His first wife was Miss Younge (see Mrs. Pope). His second wife was 
a Miss Campion. She was born 1777, and died 1803. She was an excel- 
lent actress, and was for some time the heroine of the Dublin stage. She 
is described as possessing a slender but finely-proportioned figure, a face of 
sweetness and interest, with large expressive eyes. Charles Mathew^ who 
saw her perform in Dublin, wrote, " There are few such actresses to be 
met with. She possesses a very beautiful face, extremely elegant figure, 
and delightful voice, added to every advantage of nature in mental qualifi- 
cations, and every accomplishment of education." ED. 

2 Pope's love of good living was the occasion of much waggery or} the 
part of his friends. He used to say that he knew of but one crime that 
man could commit, and that was peppering a rump-steak. On Incledon's 
return from America, Pope asked him how they "fed" there. "Im- 
mortally," replied Incledon. "The very poetry of eating and drinking, 
my dear Pope, in all things but one they take no oil to their salads." 
" No oil to their salads I" cried the tragedian, recoiling. " Why did :c 
makepeace -with them /" 



272 Mrs. Dora Jordan. 

why he was in such a hurry to come away . " Why, did you 
not observe what occurred at dinner?" "No!" "No; did 
you not see what that monster Catalani did?" "Not I," said 
Kean. "Why, sir," exclaimed Pope, "she cut a fricandeau 
with a knife !" " Yes," said Kean, " I did see that ; but what 
of it?" "What of it?" cried Pope; "why, she ought to have 
used a spoon ; and I will never again sit down with the woman 
till she has learned how to help a fricandeau." Pope was 
invited to Earl's Court to see a collection of pictures. It 
being his first visit, he was, at the dinner, placed on the right 
hand of the host ; and on the covers being removed a fine 
turbot made its appearance before him. Pope could not 
restrain himself, and rising from his chair with his knife in his 
hand, cried, " D your cook, sir ! she ought to be discharged ; 
she has spoilt a fine Torbay turbot by smothering it with 
horse-radish ;" and proceeded forthwith to scrape the whole 
of it off with his knife. This was his first and last invitation. 
Poptiana? 

Mrs. Dora Jordan. 2 
1762-1816. 

Those who have only seen Mrs. Jordan within the last ten or 
fifteen years can have no adequate notion of her performances of 



1 Apropos of Pope's love of eating may be mentioned the diet of a few 
well-known actors generally and during performance. Kean, we are told, 
took beef-tea for breakfast, and preferred a rump-steak to any other dinner. 
Macready used to eat the lean of mutton chops only when he acted, and 
subsequently almost entirely adopted a vegetable diet. Braham sang on 
bottled porter, Mrs. Wood upon draught porter, Incledon on Madeira. 
Wrench and Harley acted through a long performance without refreshment. 
Oxberry drank quantities of tea, Henderson gum arabic and sherry, Kean, 
Emery, and Reeve cold brandy-and- water, Lewis mulled wine (and 
oysters), William Smith coffee, Mrs. Jordan calf 's-foot jelly dissolved in 
warm sherry, Miss Catley linseed tea and Madeira. G. F. Cooke drank 
everything ; John Kemble took opium. A boiled egg supported Henry 
Fuissell through the most arduous entertainment ever given by one man. 

2 'Mrs. Jordan was the mistress of the Duke of Clarence. Her maiden 
name in the significant sense of maidenhood was Miss Bland. This, 
when she went on the stage, she changed to Miss Francis. Before long, 
however, her mother wrote to request another change, and she took that 
of Mrs. Jordan. The Mrs. was prefixed, we are told, to keep "frivolous 
suitors at bay." Old Tate Wilkinson claimed the honour of re-naming 



Mrs. Dora Jordan. 273 

such parts as Ophelia ; Helena in " All's Well that Ends Well ;" 
and / 'in/it in this play. Her voice had latterly acquired a coarse- 
A'hich suited well enough with her Nflls ami .-; but 

in those days it sank, with her steady melting eye, into the heart. 
Her joyous parts in which her memory now chiefly lives in 
her youth were outdone by her plaintive ones. There is no 
giving an account how she delivered the disguised story of her 

love for Orslno She used no rhetoric in her p;. 

or it was nature's own rhetoric, most legitimate then, when it 
seemed altogether without rule or law. Charles Lamb. 

A charming, cordial actress, on the homely side of the 
agreeable, with a delightful voice. Leigh hunt. 

Went to the play with Hobhouse. Mrs. Jordan super- 
lative in Hoy dm i and Jones well enough in Foppington. \Vhat 
plays ! what wit ! helas, Congreve and Vanbrugh, are you only 
comedy ? Byron. 

Mathews was frequently invited to the house of this 
fascinating actress, and visited her on several occasions of 
domestic interest. He always accepted her invitations when 
he could, and became strongly attached to her society. He 
used to say that her fine, joy-inspiring tones, and her natural 
and peculiar manner of speaking, always carried a warmth to 
his heart which no other voice ever conveyed, and seemed to 
do him good. She was indeed an extraordinary and exquisite 
being, as distinct from any other being in the world as she 
was superior to all her contemporaries in her particular line of 
acting. Life of Mathcivs. 

Here alone, I believe, in her whole professional career, Mrs. 
Siddons found a rival who beat her out of a single character. 
The rival Rosalind was Mrs. Jordan ; but those who best 
remember Mrs. Jordan will be the least surprised at her 



her. " You have crossed the water, my dear," he said to her, "90 I'll 
call you Jordan ! And by the memory of Sam !" he adds, "if she didn't 
take my joke in earnest, and call herself Mrs. Jordan ever since." Her 
first appearance in London was in 1785, at Drury Lane, as Peggy in the 
" Country Girl." Her success was immediate; her salary was doubled, 
and she was allowed two benefits. She was the mother of ten children by 
the Duke, who, on separating from her, caused a yearly allowance of 44007. 
to be settled on her, with the provision that if she returned to the stage the 
care of the Duke's four daughters, together with 15007. a year, should 
revert to him. She returned to the stage, and the children and the money 
were surrendered to the Duke. En. 

I 



274 Mrs. Dora Jordan. 

defeating her great contemporary in this one instance. Mrs. 
Jordan was perhaps a little too much of the romp in some 
touches of the part ; but altogether she had the naivete of it to 
a degree that Shakspeare himself, if he had been a living 
spectator, would have gone behind the scenes to have saluted 
her for her success in it. T. Campbell, " Life of Siddons ." 

Sir Joshua Reynolds was quite enchanted with a being who, 
like Jordan, ran upon the stage as a/^jy-ground, and laughed 
from sincere wildness of delight. He said, " she vastly ex- 
ceeded everything that he had seen, and really was what 
others only affected to be." The friend to whom he thus 
expressed himself had but just arrived in town, and, struck 
by his enthusiasm, said to him, " What, sir ! greater than 
your friend, Mrs. Abington ?" " Yes, sir," said Sir Joshua, 
"greater than Mrs. Abington, wherever she challenges com- 
parison." "Well," rejoined his friend, "at all events you 
must not forget the more extended range of Mrs. Abington 
her fine lady." " I do not forget the fine lady of Mrs. 
Abington ; it is never to 'be forgotten I spoke of the two 
actresses where they challenged comparison. But as to more 
extensive range, I do not know that you can make out your 
point ; for opposed to these fashionable ladies, you have the 
fashionable men of Mrs. Jordan, and the women who would 
pass for men, whether Wildairs or Hypolitas in comedy, and 
the tender and exquisite Viola of Shakspeare, where she com- 
bines feeling with sportive effect, and does as much by the 
music of her melancholy as the music of her laugh." Life of 
Mrs. Jordan. 

It was not as an actress, but as herself, that she charmed 
every one. Nature had formed her in her most prodigal 
humour ; and when nature is in the humour to make a woman 
all that is delightful she does it most effectually. Her face, her 
tones, her manner, were irresistible ; her smile had the effect 
of sunshine, and her laugh did one good to hear it ; her voice 
was eloquence itself it seemed as if her heart were always at 
her mouth. She was all gaiety, openness, and good nature ; 
she rioted in her fine animal spirits, and gave more pleasure 
than any other actress, because she had the greatest spirit of 
enjoyment in herself. Hazlitt, "Criticisms." 

Mrs. Jordan, more than any English actress, seems to have 
" bewitched" the public. There was an irresistible joyousness 
about be i look, her laugh, her voice a mixture of enjoy- 



Mrs. Dora Jordan. 275 

mcnt and sympathy, as if she was full of pleasure in what she 
was (loin-, and of delight in feeling that pleasure shared by 
others, which was quite independent of beauty, grace, or 
intellect. It must have been gall and wormwood to the jealous 
and domineering temper of Mrs. Abington to see the throne 
she had held so long and so despotically usurped by this raw 
young actress-of-all-work from the York circuit, who dressed 
carelessly, moved as the whim prompted her, thought nothing 
of cadences or points, and, in short, was as completely the 
ideal of natural charm as Mrs. Abington of artificial. C. ft. 
Leslie, " Life of Reynolds. 

Mrs. Jordan, when making up a quarrel with a lover, was 
touching beyond description. B. R. Haydon, " Autobio- 
graphy." 

Her sphere of observation had for the most part been in the 
country, and the " Country Girl," therefore, became her own in 
its innocence or its wantonness, its moodiness in restraint, or 
its elastic movement when free. Her imagination teemed with 
the notions of such a being, and the gestures with which what 
she said were accompanied, spoke a language infinitely more 
expressive than words the latter could give no more than the 
meaning of her mind, the former interpreted for the whole being. 
She did not rise to the point where comedy attains the dignity 
of moral satire, but humour was her own in all its boundless 
diversity. She had no reserve whatever of modest shyness to 
prevent her from giving the fullest effects to the flights of her 
fancy. She drove everything home to the mark, and the 
visible enjoyment of her own power added sensibly to its 
effect upon others. Of her beautiful compact figure she had 
the most captivating use its spring, its wild activity, its quick- 
ness of turn. She made a grand deposit of her tucker, and her 
bosom concealed everything but its own charms. The re- 
dundant curls of her hair, half showing and half concealing the 
archness of her physiognomy, added to a playfulness which 
even as she advanced in life could not seem otherwise than 
natural and delightful. Boadeits " Life of Siddons" 

I went a short time ago to see Mrs. Jordan in " As You 
Like It," and was quite as much pleased with her as I ex- 
pected ; indeed, more so, for I had been taught to expect an ' 
immensely fat woman, and she is but moderately so. Her face 
is still very fine ; no print that I ever saw of her is much like. 
Her performance of Rosalind was, in my mind, perfect; though 

T a 



276 Joseph George Holman. 

I am convinced the character, from its nature, did not call forth 
half Mrs. Jordan's powers. Leslie's "Autobiography? 1813. 



Joseph George Holman. 

1764-1817. 

Joseph George Holman was a native of London, and 
intended for the church; but in 1784 he made his debute 
Covent Garden Theatre. He afterwards went to America, 
and became manager of Charlestown Theatre. Among his 
dramatic productions are the " Votary of Wealth," a comedy, 
" Red Cross Knights," " Abroad and at Home," &c. His 
death was remarkable and melancholy, taking place, together 
with his second wife, two days after their marriage, by the 
yellow fever. Universal Biography. 

All the actors of that day, both in the street and on the 
stage, Holman surpassed in majestic bearing and deportment. 
The London critics acknowledged his Lord Townly, in the 
" Provoked Husband," the perfection of the nobleman of the 
days of Chesterfield. He was quite unlike an actor in the 
dignified lord, and was the thing itself. .... Many De 
Valmonts 1 I have witnessed in fifty-four years, but have never 
seen the equal of this accomplished English actor. Donaldson. 

Holman having been annoyed by some anonymous criti- 
cism, wrote, on a pane of glass at the Booth Hall Inn, 
Gloucester : 

" My life is like the glass I mark, at best, 
Shining, but brittle ; easily impressed ; 
The missile of a wanton, unseen foe 
Can smash a glass or actor at a blow. J. G. II." 

Miles Andrews, 2 who was travelling with him, wrote under it 
before they left : 

" Your life like to this glass ! Not so, my lad ; 

This has reflection, which you never had. M. P. A." 

Records of a Veteran. 

When Reynolds and Holman were both in the first dawn of 



1 In " The Foundling of the Forest." 

1 "Andrews was so wretched a writer that his new plays in London, like 
his powder-mills at Dartford, were particularly hazardous affairs, and in 
great danger of going off with a sudden violent explosion." Colman. 



William Duiuton. 277 

their reputation, the latter wrote to Reynolds from some of the 
provinces to say, that he had heard Macklm had seen him one 
night in " YVerter" (a play of Reynolds's), and had expressed 
himself highly delighted with the performance. " If you 
should meet him," continued Holman, " pray tell him how 
much flattered I feel, &c. &c., and how proud I shall be to 
continue to merit," &c. &c. Reynolds accordingly took the 
first opportunity to address Macklin, when he met him ; but he 
had not gone far with " his friend Holman's" rapturous acknow- 
ledgments when Macklin, interrupting him, said, " Stop, stop, 
sir ! before you go any further, have the goodness to tell me 
who are you, and who is the fellow you're talking of?" 7! 
Moore. 

Holman, with the bright glittering teeth in Lothario, and the 
deep pavior's sighs in Romeo, the jolliest person (" our son is 
fat") of any Hamlet I have yet seen, with the most laudable 
attempts (for a personable man) at looking melancholy. C. 
Lamb. 

William Dowton. 
1764-1851. 

Mr. Dowton might have reminded one very often of the 
fabled fountain of antiquity, whose water, it was said, bubbled 
as if boiling, yet never ran over, but always fell back again 
perfectly cool upon itself. Mrs. C. Mathews? 

Dowton's face, manner, and delivery, were so truly in keep- 
ing with nature, that an auditor could hardly imagine he was 
looking on anything but the thing itself, so wonderfully Dowton 
conceived and executed the most difficult character. During 
his stay at Southampton he played Sir Anthony Absolute, Sir 
Peter Teazle, Sir David Dimder, and Sir John Falstaff, in 
" Henry the Fourth." It has ever been said that the delinea- 
tion of the fat knight is a sure test of an actor's talents. Since 
the days of Henderson, the manager Maxfield, who had seen 



,* "Dowton," wrote Mathews to his wife, from Stratford-on-Avon, 
" kicked up a great dust in the house where Shakspeare was born. The 
old woman who shows it remembered him well. He must have been 
delirious ; he desired to be left alone : ' There, go ; I cannot have wit- 
nesses ; I shall cry ; and so eh ? what, the divine Billy was born here, eh ? 
The pride of all nature has been in this room 1 I must kneel leave me ! 
I don't like people to - c e me cry.' "- 



278 Benjamin Charles Incledon. 

that great man, declared he had never witnessed any one that 
in the slightest degree approached Dowton in Sir John. W, 
Donaldson. 

In acting he was of a very different school (from Parsons), 
the chastest, and therefore the best. He was not disposed, 
like Munden, to resort to occasional grimace, but made his 
aim legitimately at character in the drama, and filled up any 
perfect outline from an author with all the vitality that could 
be expected from the consummate artist. Among his other 
excellencies, he is a great master of dialect, and preserves it 
without the slightest mixture even in the vehemence of passion, 
when any mode assumed by the tongue is in most danger of 
being lost in the personal feeling of the actor. As to utility in 
the theatre, he was nearer to King than to Parsons ; and sen- 
sible speaking made the great charm of his comedy, with a 
kindly paternal warmth that glowed through the oddities of 
exterior whim. Boaden. 

Dowton's passionate old men are pronounced faultless : they 
are so ; nothing can be more true to nature, for it is Dowton's 
nature. I have seen Dowton, annoyed at dinner, snatch his 
wig off his head and fling it into the fire. There is scarcely 
any extravagance of manner that he has portrayed in Sir 
Anthony, Restive, or Oldboy, that I have not noticed in him in 
private life. I have seen him deprived of speech by irritation. 
Records of a Veteran. 



Benjamin Charles Incledon. 
1764-1826. 

Incledon was notoriously a vain man, an egotist in the most 
liberal and extended sense of the word. In pronouncing his 
own name he believed he described all that was admirable in 
human nature. He called himself the "English Ballad- 
singer" a distinction he would not have exchanged for the 
highest in the realm of talent. Mrs. C. Mathews. 

Incledon was an original, and a general favourite among his 
brother actors. He was ever ready with a witty expression, 
and was rarely indeed seen out of humour. The elder 
Mathews gave a first-rate imitation of Incledon ; and although 
the great mimic's face was totally unlike the national singer's, 






Benjamin Charles Incledon. 2 79 

yet it was difficult to tell, when seen together, which was Incle- 
don and which was Mathews. 1 W. Donaldson. 

The tuneful favourite of your youthful days, 
Rear'd by your smiles and nurttir'd by your praise; 
Whom you proclaimed from competition free, 
Unrivall'd in his native minstrelsy. Dowton. 

It is a pity I cannot put upon paper the singular gabblin.- ;> 
of that actor ; the lax and sailor-like twist of mind with which 
everything hung upon him, and his profane pieties hi quoting 
the Bible, for which and swearing he seemed to have an equal 
reverence. Leigh Jfunt. 

IK- is one of the worst-looking men I ever saw, and has, 
indeed, completely the face and figure of a low sailor. He is 
likewise a wretched actor, and always appears on the stage 
with that kind of awkward stiffness that arises from a man 
being in better company than he is accustomed to. He is, 
however, a very charming singer, and has the most manly and 
at the same time most agreeable voice I ever heard. He was, 
I am told, in reality a common sailor originally. I have also 
heard that he has other talents than that of singing, and can 
eat and drink more at a meal than any other man. C. R. 
Leslie's " Autobiography? i8i3. 2 



1 Mathews has recorded his opinions of Incledon : " Incledon has 
cleared a vast, deal of money ; he has fifteen guineas each night, and a 
benefit in each place, two of which have been very great ; and I do not 
doubt that will be the case with the third here. I heartily wish it, for I am 
convinced he is a very good-hearted fellow. Whatever ill-natured people 
may say of his ignorance or vanity, I think he has sense enough to con- 
duct himself like a gentleman, and infinitely less vanity than could be ex- 
pected from a man who had not the advantage of a good education or 
polite introduction to the world. I have been very intimate with him 
since he has been here, and from his conduct in general I should say he 
was as generous as a prince ; and never ashamed to mention his former 
situation when at sea, or when in strolling company at half-a-guinea per 
week. This is but very seldom the case when men are raised from low 
situations." ED. 

3 "His energy was great, his sensibility scarcely less, and but for the 
vulgarity of his manner he was qualified to take, and would have taken, a 
very high place. His pronunciation was thick, and affected by something 
like a lisp, which proceeded from a roll of his too large tongue, when he 
prepared for a forcible passage, or was embarrassed by the word. In this 
way, too, he used to jump to his falsetto by octaves, for the tone (it was 
that of a rich flute) was so widely different from his natural voice, there 
could be no junction. His singing was at once natural and national. The 



280 Benjamin Charles Incledon. 

At Worcester, February 4, died Mr. Incledon, who possessed 
at once the most powerful and most melodious voice of 
modern times, and who stood unrivalled in his style of singing 
such songs as " The Storm," " Black-eyed Susan," &c. He 
was born in Cornwall. His voice, at a very early period, ex- 
cited admiration ; * and when only eight years old he was 
articled to the celebrated Jackson of Exeter, and under his 
tuition he became a little idol in all the concerts and musical 
parties about the neighbourhood. At the expiration of six or 
seven years (1779), a truant disposition induced him to entei 
on board the Formidable. He went to the West Indies, and in 
the course of the two years that he continued in the navy he was 
in several engagements. Under the patronage of Lord Mul- 
grave, Admiral Pigot, and other naval officers, who gave him 
letters of introduction to Mr. Colman, he, after his return to 
England in 1792, endeavoured, but without success, to obtain 
an engagement for the Haymarket Theatre. Disappointed 
there, he joined Collins's company at Southampton, came out 
as Alphonso in the " Castle of Andalusia," and was received 
with the most flattering admiration. About a year afterwards, 
the fame of his abilities having reached Bath, he was engaged 
by the managers of that city. There, however, he was 
for some time regarded as little better than a chorus-singer ; 
but, fortunately, the penetration of the musical amateurs soon 
discovered his value. Rauzzini, the conductor of the concerts, 
took him under his care, and gave him the best instructions a 
pupil could receive. He sang at the concerts at Bath and 
Bristol with great applause ; was engaged at Vauxhall in the 
summer, where his success was still more flattering ; and 
Rauzzini's patronage speedily raised him from obscurity into 
universal estimation. He was a great favourite at the noble- 
men's Catch Club in Bath, which he assisted in establishing 



hunting song, the sea song, and the ballad, given with English force and 
English feeling, may be said to have expired with Incledon. He was tho 
manliest of singers." Thus writes one who had often heard Incledon. 
He adds, however, " It is impossible to imagine anything more con- 
ceited or more coarse than Incledon in private life, as well as on the 
stage. There is an anecdote in common circulation which combines these 
two qualities to demonstration. Some of his theatrical companions were 
one day discussing the qualities necessary to the performance of Macheath, 
when Incledon thus spoke: 'A man should be a gentleman, G 

d me, to play Machcath ; he should be a man of education (another 

oath), he should have fine manners (a still stronger) ; in short (with a most 
blasphemous adjuration), he must be Charles Incledon i' " 



, 



Bcnji i in in Charles Inclcdon. 281 

and Dr. Harrington, the most eminent physician thcte, was his 
particular friend. Remaining under Rau/zini six or seven 
years, he received a complete musical education, and became 
the first English singer on the stage. As a tenor, Mr. 1m le- 
don's voice was not always agreeable to the ear, but in com- 
pasa it was equal to any piece of music; the falsetto part was 
extensive and sweet beyond conception, and the bass was 
better than could be reasonably expected in one gifted so 
liberally in other respects, In the song of " My bonny, bonny 
Bet, sweet blossom," he particularly charmed with his falsetto, 
and he was frequently obliged to sing that air three times 
never less than twice in the course of an evening. After a 
few years, however, he practised more in the tenor or middle 
part of his voice, and used the falsetto less than in the earlier 
part of his career. Mr. Incledon made his debut as Dermot in 
"The Poor Soldier," at Covent Garden Theatre, in October, 
1790. He had for some time to labour against the prejudice of 
having been a Vauxhall singer; and as his histrionic talents 
were of a very humble stamp, it was long before he could 
obtain possession of any first-rate characters. His occasional 
performance, however, of Captain Machcath, Young Meadows, 
&c., was so masterly, it proved him to be fully competent to 
take the lead in all operas. Ultimately his powers were duly 
appreciated by the managers and by the public. For many sea- 
sons Mr. Incledon sang with great eclat at the oratorios in 
Lent ; frequently he visited Ireland, where no singer, not even 
Mrs. Billington, was ever more caressed. Of late years some- 
what neglected, perhaps, for newer favourites in the metropolis 
his engagements were chiefly of a provincial nature. Styling 
himself " The Wandering Melodist," he was accustomed to 
give a vocal entertainment of his own. A paralytic affection, 
in the course of a few weeks, led to the termination of his 
existence. He had been married three times, and has a son 1 
engaged in agricultural pursuits, now, or recently, living in the 
neighbourhood of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. New Monthly 

.izinc, 1826. 
During the O.P. war, whilst a terrific tumult was raging in front 



1 This son appeared at Drury Lane Theatre, in 1829, as Young Meadow* 
in "Love in a Village." A critic, noticing his performance, says: 
"Although bearing no comparison with his father, this gentleman has 
honest claims to be fostered for his own sake a tenor voice of singular 
sweetness, though of moderate compass, a fine intonation, and modest, 
frank, and unallected manneis." 



282 Benjamin Charles Incledon. 






of the house, the management in their dilemma popped upon 
Incledon, as " an everybody's favourite," to go on and pacify 
them. " I, my dear boy," replied Charles ; "/attempt to stop 
that riot ! I might as well bolt a door with a boiled carrot /" 
Wishing to give a stranger an idea of a man who was ex- 
tremely thin, he said, " His leg now is a capital leg to clean a 
flute with." His quotations from Scripture were always aptly, 
sometimes awfully used ; but occasionally he made them con- 
vey bitter sarcasm. He had been starring at a large provincial 
town, and his share of the receipts certainly appeared very 
inadequate to what might have been expected from the houses. 
The manager protested all was correct ; Incledon bowed, and 
after a moment muttered, '''Now Barabbas was a robber. "- 
Incledon was not very learned, but affected to be much more 
ignorant than he really was. Conversation once turning upon 
poetry, and the " Canterbury Tales" being quoted, one of the 
arguers asked Charley if he was partial to Chaucer. " Am I 
partial to chaw, sir ? By the Holy Paul, that entirely depends 

upon what it is \ but if you mean tobacco, d me, I am 

not !" Records of a Stage Veteran. 

A singer whose marvellous sweetness of voice and forcible 
simplicity of style can never be forgotten by those who once 
heard him. Blackwood's Magazine, 1839. 

Cooke was one evening very merry at a tavern, when Incle- 
don, coming in, was requested by the tragic hero to sing " The 
Storm," but it being late he refused, and retired to bed. Irri- 
tated at this, Cooke determined to be revenged, and after 
musing for a few minutes, asked the masters and waiters if they 
knew the man who had just been sitting in the same box with 
him. They replied, it was Mr. Incledon. " No such thing," 
exclaimed Cooke ; " 'tis some vile impostor, for he has stolen 
my watch and notes, and I insist for an officer being sent for, 
that we may search him. Remonstrance was fruitless, so at 
length the guardian of the night was summoned, and they all 
ascended to Incledon's chamber, with Cooke at their head. 
Charley, roused from his first sleep, asked what they wanted. 
Cooke insisted that he was the man who had the NOTES, at 
the same time observing, " If 'tis really Incledon he can sing 
' The Storm.' Let him do so; and I shall be convinced of my 
error." Incledon now perceiving the drift of the joke, without 
further preface, addressing himself to Cooke, struck up 
" Cease, Rude Boreas," and having gone through the ditty, 



Charles Dignum. 283 

the party left him once more to his repose. Theatrical 
Anecdotes. 

His vocal endowments were certainly considerable : he 
hu<l a voi< v of uncommon power, both in the natural and 
.falsetto. The former was from A to G a compass of 
about fourteen notes ; the latter he could use from D to 
E or F, or about ten notes. His natural voice was full and 
open, neither partaking of the reed nor the string, and sent 
forth without the smallest artifice; and such was its ductility, 
that when he sang pianissimo, it retained its original quality. 
His falsetto was rich, sweet, and brilliant, but totally unlike the 
other. He took it without preparation, according to circum- 
stances, either about D, E, or F, or ascending an octave, 
which was his most frequent custom, he could use it with 
facility, and execute in it ornaments of a certain class with 
volubility and sweetness. His shake was good, and his into- 
nation much more correct than is common to singers so imper- 
fectly educated. Dictionary of Musicians. 

Charles Dignum. 
1765-1827. 

A quick transition from summer to winter was easy to him 
who knew no middle season of spring and fall. As soon, 
therefore, as Vauxhall Gardens closed their rural gates, Drury 
Lane Theatre opened wide very wide its dignified portals to 
admit Diggy's ample form ; for there, time out of mind, he was 
found the stock representative of the gallant Captain Lightly, 
a character which he performed annually to Mrs. Jordan's 
romp for nearly a quarter of a century, and of which, by 
prescriptive right, he retained possession for many a year after 
the secession of that inimitable actress. Who that had even 
once seen Dignum in the amatory soldier could forget him ? 
With what a full-blown martial air would he present himself, as 
lounging about the streets, though morning, in a captain's full- 
dress regimentals of his day! .... How judiciously would 
Diggy in a subsequent scene, act the part of bottle-holder to 
the delicate Miss Tomboy, during her pugilistic experiments 
upon her grocer cousin ! his warrior head, pomatumed and 
powdered, resembling a seedling cauliflower, and agreeing 
in shape, though not in colour, with his well-rounded face ; his 



284 Charles Dignum. 

figure bedight in scarlet coat, with yellow facings ; white 
dimity, double-breasted, and lapelled waistcoat ; red sash, 
pendant over his white kerseymeres, the ends dangling un- 
equally above his well-mangled silk stockings of a bluish hue ; 
with paste knee and shoe buckles, low quartered pumps, and a 
very large three-cornered cocked hat, gilt-buttoned and looped, 
with a towering red-and- white feather swagging over one 
shoulder presenting altogether " a combination and a form, 
indeed, where every (gallery) god did seem to set his seal -to 
give assurance of" an officer and a gentleman ! (Dignum was 
essentially that, or less than that he was nothing.) 1 Mrs. C 
Mathews. 

Dignum made his debut at Drury Lane Theatre, in 1784, in 
the character of Young Meadows, in the comic opera of "Love 
in a Village." His figure was, indeed, rather unfavourable for 
the part he represented, but his voice was so clear and full- 
toned, and his manner of singing so judicious, that he was 
received with the warmest applause. He then appeared in 
Cymon, and again experienced the most flattering approbation. 
His voice was a fine tenor. Amongst other characters, those 
of Hawthorn and Giles particularly suited him, and he was 
superior in them to every other actor since the days of Beard. 
Dictionary of Musicians. 

In a common room his voice, it must be confessed, is 
musical and pleasant ; and while he sits in a chair after a good 
dinner (which he is said to be very fond of) he seems to feel no 
embarrassment. He has been used to sitting on a tailor's 
shop-board for many years, therefore the habit of sitting is as 
familiar to him as to the grand signior ; when Dignum walks 
down the stage his motion is like to that of an empty butt, set 
upon one end in a hurry, which, ere it settles to a standstill, 
makes many strange, unwieldy motions ; and when it rests has 
nothing to boast of but its void rotundity. It must be allowed 
that he has music about him ; but as an actor I know not 
whether he is so likely to excel. C. H. Wilson. 



1 Dignum was a tailor before he turned vocalist. He and Moses Kean 
(uncle of Edmund Kean), who had also been a tailor, were one day 
together when Charles Bannister passed with a friend. " I never see 
those two fellows together," said Bannister, "without thinking of one of 
Shakspeare's plays." " And which is that?" asked the friend. ' ' Measure 
for Measure, " answered Bannister. ED. 



285 

John Richardson. 
1766-1836. 

It was when this generation of showmen had passed away 
that Richardson made his bow at Smithfield. His stage and 
theatrical fittings were at first of a very rude character. The 
first floor of a public-house was turned into a theatre, and the 
platform or parade, which was fitted up outside the window, 
formed an arch over the stalls of the sellers of gingerbread nuts 
r.nd fried fish, which stood below. The audience had to reach 
the theatre by means of a ladder, communicating from the 
platform to the fair. Twenty-one times a day were the unlucky 
performers called upon to go through their parts. The 
audiences were not very fastidious, and as long as they 
had a broad-sword combat and a ghost, the actors were at 
liberty to play all sorts of tricks with the drama. The length of 
the performance was indeed usually regulated by the number of 
people waiting to enter the show. When it was thought that 
there was a sufficient quantity of visitors outside to form 
another audience, some one would be sent in to inquire in a 
loud voice if John Audley was there. This was a signal to the 
actors to cut the part short ; and to abridge a performance is 
very commonly called to " John Audley " it. This trick was 
first practised by Shuter at his booth in 1759. Whatever may 
have been the cause, it is certain that at first, curses, loud, 
deep, and comprehensive as that of Ernulphus, were heard 
from Richardson's retreating patrons ; but it was not long 
before he installed himself in popular favour. The per- 
formances of Bartlemy were repeated at Edmonton and other 
places, and at the end of the year our showman found himself 
the possessor of a good sum of money. With this he built 
himself two or three caravans (" carrywans " was his pro- 
nunciation) in which he could convey his company and 

properties from one place to another His show became 

one of the principal features of many of the fairs of the 
kingdom Bartlemy and Greenwich being his head-quarters 
but it was not until after many years, and many hardships, that 
he was enabled to give his show that appearance of splendour 
which we were accustomed to associate with it in our younger 
days. Cornhill Magazine, 1865. 



286 Samuel Russell. 

We were once introduced to the celebrated Muster Richard- 
son, and were presented with a free admission to his " theater as 
one of the purfession." The drama was called the "Wandering 
Outlaw, or the Hour of Retribution," concluding with the 
" Death of Orsina, and the appearance of the Accusing 
Spirit." We did not enjoy it very much, as the rain came 
through the canvas and the principal tragedian and the ghost 
had the influenza. Richardson claimed to have had under his 
management the elder Kean, Wallack, Barnes, the favourite 
pantaloon, and other celebrities. He had a fine appreciation 
of genius, that Muster Richardson, and left a gentleman of the 
fair the original Mazeppa at Astley's a handsome legacy 
because he was a bold speaker. Mark Lemon. 

This person, who is the last of the real race of itinerant 
dramatic showmen, amassed a fortune by unwearied industry ; 
for upwards of forty years he has reigned supreme in Smithfield 
and other fairs. It happened some years since, at the time of 
the fair at St. Albans, that a dreadful fire occurred ; Richard- 
son and his company did their utmost to extinguish it, and 
their services were considered valuable. Some time afterwards 
a subscription was raised for the uninsured sufferers ; a plain- 
looking man, in a rusty black coat, red waistcoat, corduroy 
inexpressibles, and worsted stockings, entered the committee- 
room, and gave in his subscription ioo/. "What name shall 
we say, sir?" asked the astonished clerk. "Richardson, the 
penny showman" was the proud reply. Records of a Stagf 
Veteran, 1836. 

Samuel Russell. 
1766-1845. 

Mr. Russell was the prince of oral hoaxers. His natural 
voice and expression of face favoured any desire which he 
conceived, of persuading his victims of his own belief of what- 
ever he wished them to believe. His calm, dispassionate, and 
persuasive manner and tones never failed to produce whatever 
was his object no matter upon whom he practised, his end 
was always attained. Mr. Russell's waggeries were continually 
in progress in the green-room, and he had the skill to adapt 
them to diverse subjects, according to his fancy; and with an 
absolute dominion over himself, he could scarcely fail to rule 
those upon whom he exercised his power ; his quiet and 






Joseph Bartleman. 287 

seemingly unconscious mind, the guileless expression of his 
face and voice, his ready smile, his words and demeanour, were 
so apparently candid, while carrying on his jokes, and the 
impassibility of his features so entire, his temper so impertur- 
bable, that those combined characteristics gained him from 
Mr. Mathews the fitting sobriquet of " His Innocence." 
Mrs. C. Mat hews. 

Russell, who is best known as Jerry Sneak Russell, is the 
oldest exhibitor now extant (1835) that is to say, he appeared 
in some capacity full sixty years since (exceeding Bannister by 
two years). At the time of Russell's debut, however, he was 
only seven or eight years old. He performed at Coachmakers' 
Hall, gave a series of songs, recitations, &c., and was much 
followed. When Breslaw, the emperor of all the conjurors, 
started through the provinces with his ambidexteral displays, 
he engaged little Sam Russell, and little Miss Ramanzini (after- 
wards Mrs. Bland, then nine years old), to accompany him. These 
juvenile performers proved very attractive, and received a 
lucrative offer at the opening of the Circus (now the Surrey) 
under the management of old Charles Dibdin, of Sans Souci 
celebrity, in 1779 or 1780. There Russell spoke the opening 
address, and there remained until 

" He grew hobbady-hoyish." 

About the year 1785 he launched into the drama, and ten years 
afterwards appeared at Drury Lane in Charles Surface and 
Dribble. Records of a Stage Veteran. 

Joseph Bartleman. 
1767-1821. 

The character of Bartleman's intellect and voice was in 
diametrical opposition to both the theory and the practice. He 
was of a spirited and gay temperament, and his voice was strictly 
a baritone. He had a compass of more than two octaves, and 
the tone was as penetrating as that of a violoncello, from which 
instrument perhaps he caught it, for it bore more resemblance 
to the clear, vibrating, yet stringy effect of Lindley's bass than 
anything else. Bartleman, too, was himself a violoncello player, 
which adds force to the opinion. His performance gave to 
bass-singing a totally new air. He enlivened and exalted its 



288 Joseph Bartleman. 

expression, and, by his energy of manner, improved the inert 
and sluggish ponderosity of heavy sound with vivacity and 
meaning. He lightened, improved, and enlarged the sphere 
of the bass. The drawback upon Bartleman's singing was his 
vocalization. He had embraced a theory that the perfection 
of tone was its general uniformity its homogeneity. To this 
intent he rounded the pronunciation of his vowels, thus making 
they into thoy, die into doy, &c. This swelling and sonorous 
system of enunciation, for system it was, corrupted the purity 
and infected the whole manner with a pomposity that was very 
like the affectation of a superiority not absolutely certain of its 
claims. 1 " The Progress of Music" Anon., 1833. 

This gentleman, who for many years stood unrivalled in his 
profession as a bass-singer, died on the i4th of April, at his 
house in Berners Street, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, after 
a long-protracted and painful illness. Those who have heard 
Mr. Bartleman in the finest songs of Handel, Purcell, and 
other ancient composers, can well appreciate the loss the musical 
profession will sustain by the death of such a man. To a fine- 
toned, melodious voice, he added the most correct judgment 
and refined taste, with an expression peculiar to himself. 
Memoir, 1821. 

Though delicate in person and constitution, and often ill, 
Bartleman was lively and spirited to a remarkable degree. It 
used to puzzle me to find out when or how he learned ; and 
indeed, I have heard Dr. Cooke say, " Those boys of mine 
learn of one another more than from me." Of his early 
superiority he was as little vain as if it had consisted in spinning 

a top Success never altered him applause never 

elevated him ; and he died, I am confident, as he lived, beloved 
beyond the usual degree of love bestowed on those whose 
excellence " has no companion." Miss Hawkins. 



1 Bartleman was made sensible of this defect. A newspaper critic in a 
provincial town where he had sung pointed out his peculiarity. Bartleman 
called upon him for an explanation. A meeting was appointed, and a 
musical clergyman attended as umpire. The piano was opened. "Now," 
said the critic, turning to a duet in Haydn's "Creation," "listen to this 
passage." He sang it. " I do not like it, ".said Bartleman. " Tt is too 
thin and meagre the tone is not sufficiently of one kind." Upon this the 
critic sang the passage in Bartleman's exact tone and manner. He had 
not got beyond the first few bars when the artist seized him by the arm, 
"Stop, sir ; I see it, but you have made me miserable for life, for I snail 
never correct it." ED. 






289 

Andrew Cherry. 
1769-1812. 

Cherry's Jew is one of the finest pieces of acting I ever saw. 
I think it very superior to Bannister, who certainly played it well, 
but neither spoke the dialect nor looked the character so well 
as Cherry. He is an extremely little man, I think less than 
Quick, with a droll face. He is one of the most humorous 
men in the world off the stage, and a very good actor on it. 
C/hirles Mathews. 1 

The 25th of the month showed us a substitute for King in 
that very clever actor, Cherry, who appeared in Sir Benjamin 
Dove, in " The Brothers ;" and, as a master in his profession, 
he acted also Lazarillo, in " Two Strings to Your Bow." He 
not only filled the cast, in a great measure, of King, but 
seemed equally fitted to that of Dodd, and could go nearly 
to the breadth of Munden, little as he was. Cherry was a 
native of Limerick, contemporary with Mrs. Jordan, and his 
father was a bookseller. Boaden. 

Andrew Cherfy, author of the " Soldier's Daughter," " Two 
Strings to Your Bow," was a comedian of great talent, but of 
peculiar humour. He made his debut as Sir Be?ijamin Dove, 
in Cumberland's neglected comedy of " The Brothers ;" but 
Munden, Quick, Dowton, Suett, Bannister, Fawcett, T. 
Knight, Emery, were all established favourites ; and the next 
season brought Collins, who died early, .but who was a 
very powerful actor, and Mathews into the field. Against 
such a phalanx of performers poor little Cherry could not hope 
or great success. Under the circumstances, his success was 
really extraordinary, but it did not satisfy his ambition. T/ie 
Early Days of Edmund Kean. 

Andrew Cherry, the author of the " Soldier's Daughter," and 
several other dramatic pieces, made his first debut as an actor 
n a strolling company, which exhibited at the little town of 
S T aas, about fourteen miles from Dublin. His first character 



Writing later, Mathews says : " Cherry's merit is by no means confined : 
lis old men are uncommonly rich, and his country boys are the most 
simple and humorous of any I have seen after Blanchard ; indeed, in any 
ine of comedy he is a charming actor. He is a very excellent judge of 
dressing, and has capital clothes, and the best wigs I ever saw." ED. 

U 



290 John Fawcett. 

was Colonel Frignwdl, in "A Bold Stroke for a Wife" an 
arduous task for a boy of seventeen ; but he obtained great 
applause, and the manager of this sharing company, after 
passing many encomiums on his exertions, presented him with 
tenpence-half penny, as his dividend of the profits of the night's 
performance. Young Cherry now launched out into a most 
extensive range of characters, and during the ten months he 
was with this manager he acted almost all the principal 
characters in tragedy, comedy, and farce ; and yet, notwith- 
standing his exertions, he suffered all the vicissitudes and 
distress incident to such a precarious mode of life. He was 
frequently without the means of common subsistence, and 
sometimes unable to buy the very candles by which he should 
study the numerous characters that were assigned him. 
Percy Anecdotes. 

John Fawcett. 
1769-1837. 

He was one of our few remaining actors who have striven 
successfully to individualize their performances, instead of con- 
sidering them as mere opportunities to display certain energies, 
or to make certain faces and hits. His style was essentially 
hard, yet he managed, by art and care, to bend it so as to 
discriminate the varieties of character which he attempted. 
He had not the facility or richness of Munden, nor the antique 
elegance of Farren he could not play grotesque parts like the 
first, nor elderly beaux like the last ; but in representations of 
blurt honesty and rude manly feeling, he had no rival. His 
performances were eminently English ; few performers, indeed, 
have spoken our language so purely, and none have repre- 
sented so well those manly, feelings of which we are habitually 
proud. Of the performances to which he himself alluded in 
his parting address Caleb Quotem, Job Thornbury, Dr. 
Pangloss, Sir Mark Chace, and Captain Copp, I greatly prefer 
the two last, each of which seems to me, in its way, absolutely 
perfect. Besides these, I recollect his admirable acting of the 
Farmer, in the orfginal " Maid and the Magpie :" staid form, 
almost crabbed, till the poor girl is taken to prison, then break- 
ing out with unexpected energy of defence, which (when all 
seemed vain) was succeeded by a sad patience irresistibl 
touching. Talfourd. 



' 



Mrs, Billington . 291 

A great, original, masterly comedian, always natural, and 
extremely powerful. Boaden. 

Mrs. Billington. 
1770-1818. 

I heard excellent music last night, and the last public notes 
of the sweetest singer I have ever heard, or probably ever 
shall hear I mean, combined with so much power for I 
heard many moderately strong voices still sweeter, accord- 
ing to the usual equalization of heaven's gifts. Mrs. Billington 
professedly sang for the last time ; but as I saw Mara's resur- 
rection about six different times in ten years, I am not without 
hope of hearing her again. Her last Italian air was that 
which Tarchi taught me, " Sarah's Lamentation ;" it was 
marked MS., and every one is wishing for it. Mrs. Trench* 
rib i. 

Of all the female singers that England ever produced, no 
one ever obtained, or perhaps deserved, such celebrity as 
Mrs. Billington. 2 Her transcendent talents were not only the 
boast of the country, but the whole of Europe did their 
homage, and wherever she went she was honoured and 
caressed. Percy Anecdotes. 

In my judgment the most accomplished of all English 
singers. Boaden. 

The full-length of Mrs. Billington as Saint Cecilia, with a 
choir of angels fluttering around and making music to her 
voice, is now in New York, in the gallery of Colonel Lennox. 
This sweet singer, against the wish of her father, the famous 
hautboy of the Italian Opera orchestra, had changed her 
maiden name of Weichsell at fifteen for that of her husband, 
Billington, one of the Drury Lane band ; and after a year's 
strolling in Ireland, had made her debut in Rosetta in February, 
1786, at once dazzling the town with the brilliancy of her 



1 Mother of Richard Chenevix Trench, Archbishop of Dublin, a highly 
accomplished and exquisitely beautiful woman. ED. 

2 Her maiden name was Elizabeth Weichsell. Her father was a native 
of Freyburg, in Saxony. Her mother was a Miss Frederica Weirman, 
who performed for a few nights, in 1764, at Covent Garden, and did not 
appear again. Her voice was powerful, and resembled the tone of a 
clarionet. She died 1786. ED. 

U 2 



292 Mrs. Billington. 

vocalization and the flush of her youthful beauty, which even 
at this early age was of the full and luscious order. C. R. 
Leslie. 

Mrs. Billington, then in the meridian of her beauty and 
talent, was the heroine of the opera. Edwin, who in the 
second act was to have assumed the disguise of a young Tartar 
prince, being unable, from sudden illness, to change his dress, 
actually wooed the beautiful Mrs. Billington in tattered armour 
and flannel. But our misfortunes did not stop here ; for 
d'.ring Mrs. Billington's bravura in the last act, Mr. Billington, 
her husband, who was seated in the orchestra, conceiving that 
the trumpeter did not accompany her with sufficient force, 
frequently called to him, in a subdued tone, "Louder, louder !" 
The leader of the band being of a similar opinion to Mr. 
Billington, repeated the same command so often that at length 
the indignant German, in an agony of passion and exhaustion, 
threw down his trumpet, and turning towards the audience 
violently exclaimed " It is very easy to cry louder ! louder ! 
but, by gar ! vere is de irind ?" This unfortunate interrogatory 
showed us where there was an abundance ; and a breeze 
ensued which nearly at once upset my little bark. Frederick 
Reynolds. 

By nature Mrs. Billington was largely gifted. Her voice was of 
that peculiar brilliancy in tone that has obtained the appellation 
of fluty, for with the richness and fulness of that instrument it 
had a birdlike lightness and brilliancy, whilst its compass 
upward was all but unlimited. Shield 1 composed a song for 
her that went up to G in altissimo a height, we believe, never 
reached before or since. Her intonation was so correct that 
she was hardly ever known to sing out of tune. Her execution 
was perfect, and her fancy suggested more than her good taste 



1 William Shield was born 1754- His father was an eminent singing- 
master. At the age of six Shield is said to have been able to perform 
Corelli's fifth work. His father dying, the choice was offered him of 
becoming a sailor, a boat-builder, or a barber. He chose boat-building. 
Closely as he was kept to work, he found leisure to prosecute his favourite 
study with such success as ultimately determined him in its adoption as a 
profession. His talents soon bringing him into notice, Harris, manager of 
Covent Garden Theatre, engaged him as bandmaster and composer to the 
house. Among numerous compositions of his are "The Wolf," "The 
Thorn," " O, Bring Me Wine," "The Post Captain," "Old Towler," 
"Village Maids," "The Heaving of the Lead," &c. He died January 
25, 1829. ED. 



I 



Mrs. Billington. 293 

would allow her to introduce, for the age of " fiddle-singing," 
is it has been contemptuously termed, was only then about to 
commence. She, however, .embellished every song she sang, 
changing the passages, and introduced more extensively the 
expression of ornament. But with all this power, imaginative 
and vocal, she nevertheless retained a chastity in her manner of 
executing Purcell and Handel, which made her the idol of the 
ancients. For her, it is known, the practice of harmonizing 
airs was first commenced. Carter's beautiful and pathetic 
" Oh, Nanny, wilt thou gang with me," was the most popular, 
and it certainly was an exquisite treat to hear such a voice 
descanting above the accompanying vocal harmony of Har- 
rison, Knyvett, and Bartleman. The Progress of Music, 1833. 

Her face was beautiful and expressive, her figure graceful ; 
her voice possessed a peculiar sweetness of tone, and was of 
great extent, but wanted what Dr. Burney would call calibre. 
The most scientific songs she executed with bewitching taste 
and affecting pathos ; and though her voice was not over- 
powerful, it possessed great variety and a most perfect shake. 
The Manager's Note Book? 

Haydn, the musician, was an enthusiastic admirer of the 
late Mrs. Billington ; and one day calling on Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, he found her sitting for her portrait to that cele- 
brated painter. This was Sir Joshua's famous singer, in which 
Mrs. Billington is represented in the character of St. Cecilia, 
listening to the celestial music. Haydn, having looked for 
some moments attentively at the portrait, said, "It is very 
like a very fine likeness ; but there is a strange mistake." 
" What is that ?" said Sir Joshua, hastily. Haydn answered, 
" You have painted her listening to the angels ; you ought to 
have represented the angels listening to her." Mrs. Billington 
was so much charmed by this compliment, that she sprang 
from her seat, and threw her fair arms around Haydn's neck. 
Theatrical Anecdotes. 



1 In Miss Berry's "Journal," Napoleon is to be found saying that " Vous 
avez une bien belle voix, c'est Madame Billington," and that he heard her 
in Italy. ED. 



294 

Mrs. Mountain. 
1771-1840. 

This charming songstress and no less charming woman is 
still living and in good health (1835). Her maiden name was 
Wilkinson, and some of her family were celebrated as wire 
and rope dancers. She was engaged by Tate Wilkinson (no 
relative) at York, as a substitute for Mrs. Jordan when that 
lady made her metropolitan essay (1785). About five or six 
years prior to this she (then a child) appeared at the Circus 
with Mrs. Bland, Russell, Mrs. C. Kemble, Mrs. Wybrow, and 
other children, in a piece by old Dibdin, called " The Board- 
ing School, or Breaking Up." This performance was ren- 
dered by the great talent of the children so effective that the 
patent proprietors interfered, and the juvenile company 
narrowly escaped a gaol. As she commenced, so she con- 
cluded her career with an engagement at the Surrey, where she 
played with Incledon a few nights before she left the stage. 
About twenty years since, or upwards, she gave an entertain- 
ment by herself, which was very profitable, in the provinces. 
She married Mr. Mountain, the well-known leader. As they 
had no family the would-be wits of the day made the name 
subservient to some ridiculous puns, which I need not resus- 
citate. Records of a Veteran. 

Mrs. Mountain has convinced us that during her two or 
three years' recess from the London theatres she has not been 
idle ; for on her first appearance last season at Drury Lane 
she burst upon us like a new character, by having made such 
wonderful advancement in her profession. She always appeared 
to the town as a very interesting singer, a good actress, and a 
pretty woman ; but now it must be allowed that this lady ranks 
amongst the first-rate on the stage, when considered as a vocal 
performer, and has arrived almost at the very summit of her 
profession in the orchestra of an oratorio. C. H. Wilson. 

Robert William Elliston. 
1774-1831. 

I can conceive nothing better than .... Elliston in gem 
mans comedy, and in some parts of tragedy. Byron. 



Robert William Ellis ton. 295 

He was a most delightful companion, and it might have 
been said of him in homely phrase, with more point than of 
most people, that in conversation "he was as good as a 
comedy," aye, and one of the very best comedies, too. I 
renumber few people who carried their professional charm 
more entirely into their private life. Mr. Elliston in manner 
was like that of many other actors : a distinct person behind 
the scenes and in society i.e., in and out of a theatre. In the 
former position, it always seemed- to me that he felt it neces- 
sary to put " an antic disposition on," especially when he 
became a manager, in order to cope with the oddity and variety 
of characters and tempers he then encountered ; but at these 
times I am fully persuaded that, like Hamlet, he was only mad 
" North-north-west." 1 Mrs. C. Mathews. 

Elliston was ill-adapted for tragedy. Although possessing a 
highly-intelligent face, his limbs were not Apollo-shaped, nor 
could he boast the height and majesty of Holman. He was 
quite original, and could bid defiance to either Cooke or 
Kemble in a certain number of characters. His voice was of 
a superior quality, of great compass, and capable of any into- 
nation ; his face noble, and his height about five feet ten. W> 
Donaldson, ' ' Recollections" 

" I found the crown hanging on a bush," said an English 
usurper ; " I picked the Surrey from the gutter," exclaimed 
the equally regal Robert William Elliston, who was, in truth, a 
magnifico of the first order a hound of the first breed : his 
successors are " petty larceny " potentates trundle-tails. 



1 Elliston's peculiarity seems to have been a love of coming forward, 
placing his hand on his heart, and addressing the audience on eveiy pre- 
text. One season he had become so popular at the Haymarket that he 
was obliged to take his benefit at the Opera House. The crowd was so 
immense that on the doors being opened it swept past the check-takers 
and filled the theatre. Elliston, of course, came forward, pointed out the 
loss he must sustain if the audience did not pay, and sent a number of 
men among them with pewter plates to collect the unpaid dues. When the 
curtain drew up, the stage was found blocked with another audience, ten 
file deep. The people in front hissed this violation, amid shouts of " Off, 
\>Tf !" Again Elliston came forward, his hand on his heart, his mouth 
wreathed with smiles. He said that as Madame Bouti, a foreigner, had. 
been suffered on one occasion to fill her stage with friends, he trusted 
that the same indulgence would be extended to 3. BRITON. The appeal 
was irresistible, and the people behind as wtlr as in front cheered. He 
cleared Goo/, by this benefit. ED. 



296 Robert William Ellis ton. 

Robert William lived in open war with usurers, and did not 
combine the arduous duties of a manager with the anxious 
employment of a bill-discounter ; he paid, but he never took, 
thirty per cent. ; he looked a sheriff's officer into dust, and 
would have expired with virtuous horror at an exchange of 
monetary courtesies with his opposite neighbour of Charlotte 
Street, the bailiff for Surrey. The people of St. George's Fields 
should raise a monument to Elliston for the Falstaff that he 
brought among them. Nor before nor since have they of the 
Surrey beheld aught worthy of the knight's shoe-leather. On 
his second appearance in the part at Drury Lane, Elliston fell 
down in speechless intoxication ; but he fell, only to rise at the 
Surrey. 1 Elliston's Falstaff 7 What a combination of the wit, 
the humorist, the sensual feeder, the worldly philosopher, and 
the gentleman ! At once his manner redeemed the taste of 
Prince Hal in a moment his tones, his look, and carriage 
convinced you that he could on occasion rise above the mere 
bolter of capons and swallower of sherries ; he proved, what 
every other Falstaff has failed in, or, rather, what they never 
attempted, considering it no part of the character that he 
could be a courtier. The Falstaff 'of other actors is the mere 
cookshop Falstaff- the Falstaff 'of Elliston might, if he pleased, 
have attended levees. We fear that few, very few, critics 
crossed the bridge to see the fat knight, which, it is our faith, 
was the highest triumph of Elliston as an actor, inasmuch as it 
combined, heightened, and enriched all the qualities which he 



1 " When Elliston took the Surrey the last time, a furious play-bill warfare 
raged between him and his theatre, and Mr. Davidge and the Coburg. In 
the course of it Mr. Davidge had occasion to send a message to Elliston 
respecting some private transaction. ' I come from Mr. Davidge, of the 
Coburg Theatre,' said the messenger. Elliston heard him most impertur- 
bably, and repeated the words, 'Davidge Coburg Theatre Coburg I 

don't remember ' 'Sir,' said the messenger, 'Mr. Davidge, here, 

of the Coburg, close by.' 'It may be all as you say,' said Elliston, 
solemnly ; 'I'll take your word, young man ; I suppose there is such a 
theatre as the Coburg, and such a man as the Davidge ; but this is the 
first time I ever heard the name of either.' And striding off, left 
the astonished messenger to recover his amazement as he might. "- 
Ellistoniana, It is of the Coburg Theatre, renowned in its day for it 
blood-and-murder dramas, that the following story is told : " On OIK 
occasion the scenes stuck in the grooves, and the gods were much offend* 
at beholding the halves of a house with an interstice of a yard or 
between them. At length a sweep called out, ' Ve don't expect 
good grammar here, but, hang it, you might close the scenes.' " ED. 



Robert William Elliston. 297 

severally displayed in other parts. We shall never forget his 
look, attitude, and voice when narrating the famous Gadshill fight. 
As he proceeded, detailing his prowess, like a true liar, he be- 
came a convert to his own falsehood, and his frame dilated, 
and his voice deepened and rolled with his imaginary triumphs, 
and for the time he stood, in his own conviction, the breathing 
Hector of his own lie. Nothing could be more exquisite 
no expression could more perfectly catch the subtle spirit of 
Shakspeare than the glance of Elliston his flushed face, 
quivering with conquest, and his whole mountain of a body 
big with the hero, as he cried, " Thou knowest my old ward ; 
here I lay, and thus I bore my point. Four rogues in buck- 
ram let drive at me !" Of a piece with this was his rallying 
under the exposure of the Prince ; and when asked by /&/, 
" What trick, what device, what starting-hole, canst thou now 
find out to hide thee from this open and apparent shame ?" 
gathering himself up, fairly melting his face with a smile, and 
his eye glowing like a carbuncle, Elliston fulmined rather than 
spoke, " By the Lord, I knew ye as well as he that made ye !" 
Poor Elliston ! he sleeps in lead in St. John's Church, and the 
Surrey is governed by Mr. Davidge. New Monthly Magazine, 
1836: 

Elliston, who certainly imitated John Palmer in his manner 
off the stage, had an affected morality of demeanour which ill 
accorded with his real life. In his youth this was peculiarly 
the case. Charles Incledon said, " There was a capital parson 
spoiled the day Elliston turned player." The style of 
hypocrisy in which the great comedian indulged resembled 
that of his stage manner when A was to be deceived in the 
presence of B. Thus Elliston always appeared to be cajoling 
one set for the sake of amusing another, rather than for any- 
thing to be gained by the process. When at school the boys 
called him the " young crocodile," for he had tears of contrition 
ready at the shortest notice. His love-adventures were numerous, 
and he was not very fortunate or tasteful in the selection of his 
dulcineas. Among others, when he was scarcely eighteen, was 
a tavern-keeper's dame at Wapping. One day, whilst in earnest 
conversation with the lady, an alarm was given, and as it was 
necessary to conceal Robert William, he was placed in a 
hasped chest. There was Elliston, while the lady ran to the 
bar. Five minutes passed ; still the noise continued nay, 
increased. He tried to raise the lid, but she had prudently (?) 



298 Robert William Elliston. 

fastened it. He listened : the confusion in the house became 
more evident. He could hear persons running to and fro. 
Some calamity had occurred. What ? He too soon guessed, 
for he heard the dripping of water and the cry of " Fire !" All 
considerations but those of personal safety vanished ; he sought 
with all his might to extricate himself in vain ; frightful recol- 
lections of being buried alive flashed across his memory ; but 
to be at once buried and burnt was too much, and his struggles 
were renewed until he sank back helpless and exhausted. " At 
last" (I quote his own words) " I had nothing for it but 
patience and prayer." " Prayer !" I ejaculated, " under the 
circumstances that brought you there, should have been 
preceded by repentance." "Sir," he replied, "I did 
not pray directly for myself, but that those who were en- 
deavouring to subdue the fire might be induced to take care of 
the furniture" The fire, which was only trifling, was at length 
quenched. Elliston's flame underwent the same process, for 
on the lady releasing him he wended homewards, and never 
again incurred a similar danger in the same premises. Records 
of a Stage Veteran. 

Of the great comedian, Robert William Elliston, who acted 
quite as much off the stage as he did on it, a thousand pleasant 
anecdotes might be recorded. Giving at all times a free vent 
to the sly humour, the good-natured satire, and keen enjoy- 
ment of a joke that were natural to him, his whim, eccentricity, 
readiness, and talent, gave to many of the adventures in which 
he was engaged an air of comedy, farce, or extravaganza, 
sufficiently dramatic, rendering them quite as amusing as one 
half of the entertainments now produced on the stage. Though 
the greater part of the anecdotes related of Elliston had their 
birth when he was " full of the god," it must not be inferred 
that he was naturally or habitually a drunkard. He was cer- 
tainly, in some measure, a bon vivant and fond of his glass ; 
but he required good fellowship to make the bottle pass to his 
mind. His great delight was to be rex convivii to indulge in 
the song, the speech, and the sentiment; the joke, the tale, 
the anecdote. Elliston had a great opinion of his own 
oratorical powers, and imagined himself eminently qualified for 
the Senate. Having a keen eye to the Treasury Bench, he 
always had a strong idea that he should shine as a legislator, 
and seriously thought of becoming an M.P., in a parliamentary 
sense as well as in a theatrical one. No actor ever possessed 






Robert William Elliston. 299 

a greater command over an audience than did Elliston. Foi 
lliis he was indebted, among other things, for the general 
favour in which he was held by the public a prepossessing 
person, winning voice, great good-nature, admirable presence 
of mind, and, if it must be said, extreme effrontery. W. T. 
rieff. 

Kenny told me that Charles Lamb, sitting down once to 
play whist with Elliston, whose hands were very dirty, said, after 
looking at them for some time, "Well, Elliston, if dirt was 
trumps, what a hand you would have !" Thomas Moore. 

In green-rooms impervious to mortal eye, the Muse beholds 
theo wielding posthumous empire. Thin ghosts o>{ figurantes 
(never plump on earth) circle thee endlessly, and still their song 
is, Fye on endless phantasy. Magnificent were thy capriccios on 
this globe of earth, Robert William Elliston ! for as yet we 
know not thy new name in heaven. It irks me to think that, 
stript of thy regalities, thou shouldst ferry over, a poor forked 
shade, in crazy Stygian wherry. Methinks I hear the old 
boatman, paddling by the weedy wharf, with raucid voice 
bawling " SCULLS, SCULLS !" to which, with waving hand and 
majestic action, thou deignest no reply other than in two curt 
syllables, "No; OARS!" C. Lamb. 

What do some of the diurnal critics mean by their cant about 
" a certain age " atod " the hand of time ?" It is they who have 
grown old, not he, and they would shift the weight of years to 
his gaiety from their own wrinkled wisdom. Have they seen 
him in Ranger, "with wine in his head and money in his 
purse," finely running his career of frolic, redeeming libertinism 
by a flow of animal spirits which makes it seem mere jesting, 
bringing back the " good old times " when the gaieties of youth 
and the infirmities of age were not visited with the penalties of 
felon baseness, and dancing, drinking, and making love and fun 
as if the world contained no treadmill ? Let them go and see 
him in Young Absolute, playing off Acres on Falkland, with the 
roguish eye and inward chuckle ; or disporting with Fat staff as 
Prince Hal, worthy to mate with " the great sublime" of jovial 
wits; or changing, swift as "meditation," or as Mathews, 
"from grave to gay, from lively to severe," from idiotcy to 
college thoughtfulness, and again to mercurial want of thought 
in "Three and the Deuce" and then let them assert, if they 
dare, that he is grown older ! If there were a little falling off 
in rapidity and force, surely it were better to enjoy the exertions 



300 Edward Knight. 

of a performer who has gone onward with ourselves, and who 
Lalf awakens a thousand recollections of old joy, than to call 
for a stranger with nothing but youth on his side, who has no 
root in our experiences or affections, and who will attempt to 
confound our recollections with some new reading, and puzzle 
the faith of our childhood. But there is no falling oft; our 
actor is as gay as if he had not Drury Lane to answer for, and 
as full of glee and hope as he was at five-and-twenty. The 
occasional want of continuity in his elocution, which nature 
meant a blemish, really gives effect to his happiest passages, 
when his glee comes out like champagne, after a short pull at 
the cork, bright, sparkling, and as full of body as of life 
and flavour. In gallantry there is no one who approaches 
him he addresses a woman with a mingled ardour and 
respect of which no other actor has a conception, and puts 
more of love into his flirtation with a street acquaintance, than 
many an actor has been able to infuse into his representations 
of the amatory heroes of tragedy. Long very long may 
full audiences foster his good spirits, and may he give impulse 
to theirs ! T. N. Talfourd. 

Edward Knight. 

1774-1826. 

He was born at Birmingham in 1774, and was intended by 
his friends for an artist; but having at an early period a 
penchant for the stage, on the death of the person to whom he 
was artifcled, made his first appearance at Newcastle-under-Line, 
as Hob, in the farce of " Hob in the Well ;" but so astounding 
was his reception that it quite disconcerted him, and, unable 
to go on with the character, he ran off the stage, and it was 
performed by another. His ardour was for some time checked 
by this mishap, and he resumed the pencil for another year, 
but the ruling passion was strong. He ventured in a more 
obscure place, Raither, in North Wales, again played Hob, and 
was successful. Afrer strolling about some time, he was 
engaged by Mr. Nunns, of the Stafford company. In that 
town he married a daughter of Mr. Clewes, a wine merchant. 
His next step to fame was owing merely to the whim of some 
merrily disposed wag, who was willing to raise a laugh at his 
expense. One night at Uttoxeter, after having raved through 






Edward Knight. 301 

the parts of Arno, Silvester Daggerwood, and Lingo, he was 
agreeably surprised by a note requesting his attendance at the 
inn adjoining the theatre, and intimating that he would receive 
information for the improvement of his theatrical pursuits. 
1 Anything, of course, was neglected for this important inter- 
view. He tic\v to the inn on the wings of speed, and was 
immediately shown into a room, where he was very cordially 
received by an unknown but grave-looking gentleman, whose 
inflexible steadiness of face could not give the least suspicion 
of a jest. After the usual compliments of that day, the stranger 
very politely assured him that he had received much pleasure 
from his performances, and was determined to put him into a 
situation where his talents might be shown to advantage. Mr. 
Knight stammered forth his gratitude, and had all ears open 
for the reception of this important benefit. The stranger pro- 
ceeded to inform him that his name was Phillips, and that he 
\\.is well known to Mr. Tate Wilkinson, the manager of the 
York Theatre. " Now, sir," he added, " you have only to 
make use of my name, which I fully authorize you to do, and 
you may rely upon being well received. Say that I have seen 
you on the stage, and declared my satisfaction at your per- 
formance." Mr. Knight was, of course, much delighted, and 
expressed, in the most lively terms, his sense of this important 
obligation. The next morning he wrote a very polite letter to 
Mr. Wilkinson, making the tender of his services, and not in 
the least doubting their acceptance, for the name of his new 
ally formed the most prominent feature in the letter. In a 
short time, a very laconic epistle came from the York manager, 
that at once overthrew his splendid expectations. It was to 
this effect : " Sir, I am not acquainted with any Mr. Phillips, 
except a rigid Quaker, and he is the last man in the world to 
recommend an actor to my theatre. I don't want you. TATE 
WILKINSON." This was certainly a mortifying repulse. His 
air-formed schemes at once melted into nothing; and the 
failure was so much the more painful as it was totally un- 
expected. In the bitterness of his anger, he wrote a second 
letter to the manager : " Sir, I should as soon think of applying 
to a Methodist parson to preach for my benefit, as to a Quaker 
to recommend me to Mr. Wilkinson. I don't want to come. 
E. KNIGHT." This letter was too much in Mr. Wilkinson's 
own peculiar style to meet with an unfavourable reception. 
Not lung, however, resulted from it at the time. A whole year 



3O2 Edward Knight. 

rolled on with the Stafford company, at the end of which Mr. 
Knight was agreeably surprised by a second letter from his 
former correspondent In brevity and elegance it was in no 
wise inferior to his former epistle, but the matter of it sounded 
much more sweetly to our hero's ears. The following is, to 
the best of our knowledge, a literal transcript : " Mr. Methodist 
Parson, I have a living that produces twenty-five shillings per 
week. Will you hold forth ? TATE WILKINSON." This sudden 
change was not altogether owing to the preceding correspon- 
dence, but in part to the secession of Mathews, who had been 
engaged at the Haymarket. He lost a beloved wife at the 
early age of twenty-four, who left him burdened with the care 
of a small family. He had been married five years. He was 
united secondly, in 1807, to Miss Susan Smith, sister of Mrs. 
Bartley, the then heroine of the York stage. At York seven 
years passed away without any other material occurrence, when 
he received proposals from Mr. Wroughton, at that time stage- 
manager of Drury Lane, which, of course, were eagerly accepted. 
On the destruction of Drury Lane Theatre by fire, many of the 
principal performers considered themselves as released from 
their treaties, and embarked in other adventures. Mr. Knight 
was one of the few that had abilities to profit by this opportunity. 
On October the i4th, 1809, he made his first appearance at 
the Lyceum as Timothy Quaint, in the " Soldier's Daughter," 
and Robin Roughhead, in "Fortune's Frolic." He was 
equally successful in Jerry Blossom, Sim, Spado, Trip, &c., and 
continued a favourite till illness compelled him to retire. His 
powers as a comic actor were certainly considerable. There 
was an odd quickness and a certain droll play about 
every muscle in his face, that fully prepared the audience for 
the jest that was to follow. His Sim, in " Wild Oats/' may be 
termed the most chaste and natural performance on the stage. 
On one occasion, in the exercise of his profession, Knight had 
a very narrow escape with his life. On the evening of 
February iyth, 1816, when performing with Miss Kelly, in the 
farce of " Modern Antiques," a maniac named Barnett fired a 
pistol at the lady, which had nearly given him his quietus. His 
remains were removed to a vault in Pancras New Church, on 
the 27th of February, when, among the mourners, were Mr. 
Elliston, Dr. Pearson, Mr. Carpue, Mr. G. Soane, &c., &c. 
New Monthly Magazine, 1826. 






303 

Robert Bradbury. 
1774-1831. 

Bradbury commenced life in his native town, Manchester, a* 
a carpenter, got engaged at the theatre as scene-shifter, with 
Riley, the author of the " Itinerant." A clown falling sick 
during the run of the pantomime, brought the young carpenter 
forward, and Bradbury very soon appeared before a London 
audience at the Surrey, and became the great buffo after 
Grimaldi. Bradbury is mentioned in the "Life of Grimaldi." 
It says : " He was engaged at the Wells to fill Joey's place in 
the pantomime during his absence in the country on a trial." 
In the interim Bradbury so gained on the good folks 
of Clerkenwell, that when the renowned Joey returned, the 
managers told him it would be a dangerous experiment to 
make any change, and thought it would be as well to let 
Bradbury finish the season. " Then," exclaimed Grimaldi, " I 
am ruined." Recollections of an Actor. 

John Braham. 1 

1774-1856. 

Brahanfs performance of Jtphthds Lamentation is one of 
the finest pieces of tragic singing in our time, and combines 
every excellency music can possess. Mrs. Trench, 1814. 

Mr. Mathews had known Mr. Braham in the autumn of 
1803, at Liverpool, and it followed that he gave a perfect 
imitation of him both in private and public life. Of this 
Mr. Braham heard, and with all the liberality of good sense 



1 "I remember Braham, "says a writer in the year 1831, "nearly half a cen- 
tury. He came out at the Royalty Theatre the year Kean was born. He was 
never called or known as Abraham in my recollection. His name appeared 
in the bills thus ' Master Braham, pupil of Mr. LeomV A pantomime 
called 'Hobson's Choice' was presented there in 1787, in which young 
Braham sang. He was very little noticed, and attracted no attention 
for years after. I fancy he must have been about fourteen, but if so he 
was small for his age. Mrs. Gibbs was the star there ; she was then a fine- 
grown girl, scarcely sixteen. Mrs. C. Kemble (then Miss Decamp), Mrs. 
Bland (then Miss Romanzini), and Samuel Russell (the "Jerry Sneak"), were 
all mere children at this time, and were just becoming known to the public. 
Of all these persons Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. C. Kemble attracted and retained 
attention most for some years, Braham certainly least." 



304 John Braham. 

and conscious talent, lie good-humouredly pressed my husband 
to show him what not more than one man in twenty is 
acquainted with himself. In vain did he solicit ; when one 
day dining together at a large party, after much importunity of 
the kind to Braham No. 2, it was discovered that Braham 
No. i had stolen a march upon his host and hostess ; in fact, 
he had disappeared during the dessert, and it was said had left 
the house. After this fact was ascertained, it was urged that in 
the absence of the great original, Mr. Mathews could do no 
less than represent him, for the consolation of his bereaved 
friends ; and under such circumstances he at length yielded, 
and Mr. Braham's absence was fully compensated for the time 
by the imitator, and Mr. Braham even favoured the company 
with one of his most popular songs. When the general 
enioyment was at its height, two ladies, between whom Mr. 
Braham had sat at dinner, seemed as if suddenly discomposed, 
when a figure rose slowly from under the table, and in tones 
which seemed uttered as if intended in illustration of the recent 
mimicry pronounced " Very well, Mathews ! exceedingly like 
indeed ; nay, perfect, if I know myself," and the Braham stood 
confessed. Life of Mathews. 

In no part of his art is Braham more distinguished than in 
the use of the falsetto ; his success in this respect, indeed, 
forms an era in singing. When in the zenith of his powers, 
from a facility of taking up the falsetto on two or three notes of 
his compass at pleasure, he had so completely assimilated the 
natural and falsetto at their junction, that it was impossible to 
discover where he took it, though a peculiar tone in the 
highest notes was clearly perceptible. Before his time the 
junction had always been very clumsily conducted by English 
singers. Johnstone, who had a fine falsetto, managed it so ill, 
that he obtained, from the abruptness of his transitions, the 
cognomen of " Bubble and Squeak." Braham could proceed 
with the utmost rapidity and correctness through the whole of 
his compass, by semi-tones, without the hearer being able to 
ascertain where the falsetto commenced. Percy Anecdotes. 

I remember Braham in his prime. His voice was a tenor of 
the purest quality, of extraordinary power, and of singulai 
sweetness. It ranged from La below the lines to the upper Si. 
With it he at times produced a sensation beyond the power of 
description. He was without a rival ; but he called into bein* 
a host of imitators, most of whom were nearly as vulgar as 



being 
* they 



Braham. 305 

were incapable. Nothing can be conceived more superb than 
JJrahum's singing of "Comfort ye, my people." 1 remember 
hearing him in the "Messiah" at York Cathedral in 1833. 
How his exquisite notes rose above the swell of the orchestra 
and the organ ! His execution was marvellous : his articulation 
perfect. His father's name was Abraham ; and as he was 
short and stout his neighbours nicknamed him " Punch." The 
title clung ; and always after he was spoken of as " Abe 
Punch." Braham's education when a boy was utterly neglected. 
He now and then made a few shillings by singing in the choir 
of the great synagogue; and there his voice attracted the 
attention of one of the brothers Goldsmid, then a very opulent 
family. On the conclusion of the service young Abraham was 
requested to call on Abraham Goldsmid. Repairing to 
Lernan Street, Goodman's Fields (in 1793 this being the 
aristocratic quartier of the Jews) he was introduced by Gold- 
smid to Leoni Lee, a clever musician. By Lee young 
Abraham was instructed in the rudiments of music and singing; 
and two years after he made his appearance at the Garrick 
Theatre 1 under the name of Braham. His success was prompt 
and decisive. I recollect an anecdote of Braham. He was 
performing in a pasticcio with Mrs. Crouch, Mrs. Bland, Kelly, 
and Jack Bannister. The scene represented the interior of an 
old country inn. (Enter Braham with a bundle slung to a 
stick on his shoulder) : "I have been traversing this desolate 
country for days with no friend to cheer me. (Sits.) I am 
wearv yet no rest, no food, scarcely life oh ! heaven, pity 
me. Shall I ever realize my hopes ? (Knocks on the table.) 
NVhat ho, there, house ! (Knocks again.) Will no one come ?" 
(Enter Landlord). " I beg pardon, sir, but (starts) I know 

1 "This Thespian nook is in Leman Street, and has, we believe, descended 
through all the tribes of Israel. On its first opening the proprietor of the 
Pavilion trembling for his monopoly of absurdity and horror tried every 
means to destroy it. The surrounding public, however, supported the new 
theatre, and after many struggles with the bench, money is now at least, 
when it is offered 'taken at the doors.' There is one gorgeous incident 
connected with the theatre : Mr. Braham received thirty pounds for sing- 
ing two or three songs. Many of the pieces produced at the Pavilion and 

Garrick are from the pen of a person named , who may be seen, 

in his hours not employed in composition, on the pavements of White- 
chapel, with a green shade over his face, and a placard on his breast, 
soliciting the charity of the passengers for ' the successful author of a hun- 
dred dramas.' " New Monthly Magazine, 1836. 

X 



306 John Braham. 

that face (aside). What can I do for you, sir? Shall it be 
supper ?" Braham : " Gracious heaven ! 'tis he the voice 
the look the (with calmness) yes, I want food." Landlord : 
" Tell me what brings one so young as thou appearest to be 
through this dangerous forest ?" Braham : " I will. For days, 
for months, oh ! for years, I have been in search of my father." 
Landlord: "Your father!" Braham: "Yes! my father. 
'Tis strange but that voice that look that figure tell 
me that you are my father." Landlord : " No, I tell thee 
no ; I am not thy father." Braham : " Heaven protect me ! 
Who, tell me, WHO is MY FATHER?" Scarcely had Braham 
put this question when a little Jew stood up in an excited 
manner in the midst of a densely crowded pit and exclaimed, 
" I knowed yer farder well. His name was Abey Punch !" 
The performance was suspended for some minutes in the roars 
of laughter that followed this revelation. Henry Russell. 

Braham's voice is a tenor, enlarged in compass by a falsetto, 
and its whole range of really useful and good notes extends 
from A in the bass to E in alto a scale of twenty notes. The 
tone, when not forced, approached the very best sounds of a 
clarionet, beautifully played less reedy, though perhaps 
always a little lowered by that defect. It was so perfectly even 
and equal, and he possessed so thorough a command over it, 
that he could produce any given quantity or quality upon any 
part of it at pleasure ; while, if he ran through his whole 
compass by semi-tones, it was impossible to point out at what 
precise interval he took or relinquished the falsetto, though the 
peculiar quality of that voice when he rose high, was sufficiently 
perceptible. But to this faculty (the true portamento of Italian 
vocalization) he also added the power of colouring the tone 
according to the passion : he could increase or attenuate its 
volume, not merely making it louder or softer, but by a 
distinctly different expression of tone, so to speak. Braham 
has had few competitors no rival. The nearest approach to 
rivalry was in the person of Mr. Sapio. The Progress 
Music. 

Whoever has heard Braham sing the first line of " Waft he 
angels, through the skies" (from "Jephthah"), and recollects such 
first line separately and apart from the rest of the song, will 
have heard the perfection of his tone, and will probably admit 
that he can produce sounds breathing hope, adoration, and 
fervent piety, sounds most touching and full of beauty, 



LO 

oj 



, 



John Braham. 307 

Whoever has heard him in the recitative preceding this air, 
" I Jecper and deeper still," will have listened -to as extra- 
ordinary changes of tone, expressing remorse, hesitation, the 
deepest anguish and despair, awe, heart-rending yet firm and 
resolute obedience to Divine power. In the order of musical 
effects it ranks with the finest effects of Mrs. Siddons in the 
drama. 1 Quarterly Musical Alaga-.iin-. 

Braham was born in Rotherhithe, in 1759.* His father was a 
Portuguese Jew, and was old at the time of young Braham's 
birth, lie went abroad, and died there soon after. Leoni, who 
took Braham in 1783 or 1784, exercised over him not only the 
control of a teacher, but that of a parent. After the failure of 
Palmer's Royalty scheme Leoni went to Jamaica, taking 
I5ra ham with him. In 1797 Leoni died there, and his pupil 
returned to England, and shortly afterwards assumed that 
station in the musical world which he has held indisputably 
ever since. With regard to the name having been altered in 
the playbills from Abraham which, it has been asserted, was 
really his appellation this appears very improbable, as it 
would have been likely to give offence to many patrons of the 
Royalty Theatre, who were principally Jews. Besides, from 
the opening of that theatre to the time of its destruction, two 
or more performers of that persuasion have invariably formed 
members of the company. Among them were included Mrs. 
Bland, Isaacs, the bass-singer, Sloman, Mrs. Wallack (sen.), 
Delpini, and Leoni himself, Kean's reputed father and uncle, 
and a variety of other persons, who were engaged there 
because their persuasion was a favourable circumstance in the 
way of attracting their brethren. Records of a Veteran. 

The first time Weber 3 heard Braham, he said to a friend, 
" This is the greatest singer in Europe." He was then singing 
in the " Freischiitz." Anecdotes of Braham. 



1 Braham was conversing with a friend concerning the merciless way in 
which he had been criticized, who defended his critics on the ground of 
his having assumed all styles. "Do you mean to say," asked Braham, 
" that I should have been a better singer had my practice been less multi- 
farious?" "I do." Braham sank a few moments into a reverie, then 
suddenly exclaimed, " I never had an audience that could appreciate me j 
give me such an audience, and then see how I'll sing." ED. 
2 A mistake. Braham was born in 1774. 

3 Carl Maria von Weber was born in a small town in Holstein in 1786-7. 
His early musical education was conducted by Henschkel. He subse* 
quently took lessons from the brother of Haydn. His earliest performances 

X 2 



308 John Braham. 

He is a beast of an actor, though an angel of a singer. Sir 
Walter Scott. 

Braham was not merely a scientific vocalist, he was a 
scientific musician. No man understood better, or more 
thoroughly appreciated in others, purity of style, yet no man 
oftener violated the canons of good taste. For this reason I 
cannot call him a legitimate singer. I have heard him sing the 
best sacred music at the house of friends, whom he knew to 
be refined and fastidious musicians, and then his rendering of 
Handel has been glorious, and worthy of his theme. I have 
heard him at an oratorio at the theatre the very next night 
sing the same airs to a miscellaneous audience, and so overlay 
the original composition with florid interpolations as entirely 
to distract the listener's attention from the solemnity and 
simplicity of the theme. This violation of propriety was 
attributable to the fact of his having observed that a display 
of flexible vocalization always brought down thunder from the 
gods in the gallery; and therefore he was tempted by the 
greed of claptrap applause to sacrifice his own convictions of 
propriety to the demands of the vulgar and unenlightened. 
Rev. J. Young, "Lifeof C. M. Young.'\ 

There is a fine scorn in his face, which nature meant to be 
of Christians. The Hebrew spirit is strong in him in spite of 
his proselytism. He cannot conquer the Shibboleth : how it 
breaks out when he sings, "The children of Israel passed 
through the Red Sea !" The auditors for the moment are as 
Egyptians to him, and he rides over our necks in triumph. 
The foundation of his vocal excellence is sense. C. Lamb. 



were published in 1798. His opera of "The Girl of the Wood," com- 
posed when he was fourteen years old, was performed to applauding 
audiences in Vienna, Prague, and St. Petersburg. This opera was after- 
wards published under the title of "Silvana." His opera of "Abu 
Hassan" was composed in 1810. In 1813 he was appointed Director of 
the Opera at Prague, whence he was called to Dresden in 1816, where he 
occupied the post of Maestro di Cappella to the King of Saxony. His cele- 
brated " Freischutz" was produced at Berlin in 1822. The publication of 
this opera at once elevated Von Weber to the rank of one of the first com- 
posers in Germany, and, with the exception of the " Zauberflote," no perfor- 
mance ever became so instantaneously popular. This opera first led to his 
invitation to England, and to compose an opera for the English stage. He 
died in 1826 at the house of Sir George Smart in Great Portland Street. 
He was buried in the Catholic Chapel at Moorfields. ED. 



309 

Charles Kemble. 
1775-1854. 

Though not heroic in his person, nor subtle in his art, too 
much frequently upon the strain, and rather pleasing than 
great, yet with no mean share of his family advantages ; born 
for the stage, and naturally studious, he might be fairly set 
next to his brother (John), at whatever distance. It was 
always to be remarked that he never imitated him either in the 
tone or cadence of speech ; and in the action or display of the 
person, he went upon a principle much less refined and 
picturesque. Boaden^ " Life of Jordan"^ 

I thought the Faulconbridge of Charles Kemble as perfect as 
the Coriolanus of his brother John. Nature, as well as art, 
had admirably adapted the brothers for these two characters. 
Charles, then young, possessed a heroic face and figure ; and 
the spirit he threw into the reputed son of Coeur de Lion, as 
he played the character, was too natural not to be his own. 
L cslie, * * A utobiography. " 

Mr. Charles Kemble's absence from the theatre, by what- 
ever cause occasioned, makes a lamentable chasm in the 
scenic art. Were he not personally gifted as he is, it would 
be a sad thing to lose the last of the Kembles from Covent 
Garden to look in vain for the living and vigorous repre- 
sentative of that truly noble house which has laid on us all a 
great debt of gratitude, and with which he seemed still to connect 
us. John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons had not quite left this their 
proper seat while he remained there, for we had associated 
him with them in their most signal triumphs, to which he lent 
all the grace and vigour of youth, which were theirs no longer. 
But it is not only on this account that we bitterly regret his 
secession, for he was endowed with rich and various faculties, 
which can be found in no one else in the same perfection and 
harmony. Where now shall we seek the high Roman fashion 
of look, and gesture, and attitude ? Where shall old chivalry 
retain her living image, and high thoughts, " seated in a heart of 
courtesy," have adequate expression? Where shall the in. 
dignant honesty of a young patriot spirit "show fiery off?" 



1 In the " Life of Siddons," Boaden awards him high praise. 



3 TO Charles Kemble. 

Whither shall we look for gentlemanly mirth, for gallant ease, 
f or delicate raillery, and gay, glittering enterprise? Leigh 
Hunt. 

Charles Kemble is not so fine a man as John, and we 
cannot choose but call him rather clumsy, especially about the 
ankles ; but then he has a noble, natural air, and has studied 
successfully the art or the science of manner, demeanour, 
carriage, so as to make the most of his figure, which is cast in 
almost Herculean mould. His face, though far inferior in 
heroic expression to John's, is yet noble ; and he has a voice 
mellow and manly, and of much compass, though incapable of 
those pathetic and profound tones which, in spite of his 
asthma, used to issue forth from that broad chest of his, when 
" Black Jack was in power to-night," in volume that surprised 
those who had heard him only on more common occasions, or 
when he was indisposed to make, or incapable of making his 
highest efforts. For many years Charles, though always a 
favourite with a London audience, could justly be said to be 
but a second-rate actor, even in his best characters ; and in his 
worst he was hardly a third-rate one. But the acting of all the 
Kembles is of slow growth. About twenty years ago, when 
Charles could not have been much under forty, his acting 
brightened up into a brilliancy, and expanded into a breadth 
of manner that showed he was about to enter on a new era. 
He did so ; and, ere long, in some characters had no equal 
among his contemporaries, and we suspect few, if any, superiors 
among, his predecessors. Blackwoctfs Magazine, I832. 1 

The great beauty of all my father's performances, but par- 
ticularly of Hamlet, is a wonderful accuracy in the detail of the 
character which he represents an accuracy which modulates the 



1 The same writer, speaking of Mrs. Charles Kemble, nee Miss Decamp, 
says: "But we remember us of a delightful, dark-eyed, dark-haired 
girl, whose motion was itself music ere her voice was heard, and the 

fiance of her gleaming eyes, ere yet her lips were severed, itself speech. 
n all melodramatic representations, in that exquisite species of historical 
narrative, pantomime, where face, frame, and limbs have all to be eloquent, 
and to tell tales of passion beyond the power of mere airy words ; in the 
dance that is seen to be the language of the exhilarated heart, when it 
seeks to communicate, to cherish, or to expend its joy in movements of the 
animal frame, not merely quickened by the spirit, but seemingly themselves 
spiritualized in all this, who was once comparable in her sparkling girl- 
hood to that dangerous yet unwicked witch, the charm-and-spell bearing 
enchantress, Decamp ?" 



Charles Kemble 3 1 1 

emphasis of every word, the nature of every gesture, the ex- 
pression of every look, and which renders the whole a most 
laborious and minute study, toilsome in the conception 
and acquirement, and most toilsome in the execution. My 
father possesses certain physical defects a faintness of colour- 
ing in the face and eye, a weakness of voice ; and the cor- 
: iding intellectual deficiencies a want of intensity, vigour, 
and concentrating power. Those circumstances have led him 
(probably unconsciously) to give his attention and study to the 
liner and more fleeting shades of character, the more graceful 
and delicate manifestations of feeling, the exquisite variety of 
all minor parts, the classic keeping of a highly wrought whole ; 
to all these, polished and refined tastes, an acute sense of the 
beauty of harmonious proportions, and a native grace, gentle- 
ness, and refinement of mind and manner, have been his 
prompters ; but they cannot inspire those startling and tre- 
mendous bursts of passion which belong to the highest walks 
of tragedy, and to which he never gave their fullest expression. 
I fancy my aunt Siddons united the excellencies of both these 

styles I have acted Ophelia three times with my father, 

and each time, in that beautiful scene where his madness and 
his love gush forth together like a torrent swollen with storms, 
that bears a thousand blossoms on its troubled waters, I Have 
experienced such deep emotion as hardly to be able to speak. 
The exquisite tenderness of his voice, the wild compassion and 
forlorn pity of his looks, bestowing that on others which, above 
all others, he most needed ; the melancholy restlessness, the 
bitter self-scorning ; every shadow of expression and intonation 
was so full of all the mingled anguish that the human heart is 
capable of enduring, that my eyes scarce fixed on his ere they 
filled with tears ; and long before the scene was over, the 
letters and jewel-cases I was tendering to him were wet with 
them. The hardness of professed actors and actresses is some- 
thing amazing. After this part, I could not but recall the 
various Ophelias I have seen, and commend them for the 
astonishing absence of everything like feeling which they 
exhibited. Oh, it made my heart sore to act it! Fanny 
Kcmble. 



312 

Charles Mathews. 



The late Mr. Mathews, a man of genius in his way, an 
imitator of mind as well as manner, and a worthy contributor to 
the wit which he collected from friends and kindred, was 
a disburser of much admirable " acute nonsense," which it is a 
pity not to preserve. 1 What could be better than his Scotch- 
woman? or his foreigners? or the gentleman who "with 
infinite promptitude of mind, cut off the lion's head ? " or the 
Englishman who after contemplating Mount Vesuvius, and 
comparing it with its fame (and himself), exclaimed, snapping 
his fingers at it, " You're a humbug !" Leigh Hunt. 

A comic world in one. Boaden. 

Hook's next production was the farce of " Catch Him Who 
Can," brought out at the Haymarket (1806), the music supplied 
as in the former case by his father. It was written for the 
purpose of bringing into juxtaposition the peculiar talents 
of Liston and Mathews, the plot turning on the escape of a 
supposed murderer. So admirable, indeed, was the rapidity 
with which Mathews, as the nobleman's servant, assumed some 



1 James Smith, one of the authors of the " Rejected Addresses," gives a 
curious illustration of a higher faculty in Mathews than the mimetic : "I 
never met Coleridge but once, and that was under Mathews' roof. The poet 
then lived (where indeed he died) at Mr. Gilman's, at Highgate. Some of the 
party Hook, T. Hill, and {\ think) Poole and myself had already 
assembled. It was a winter's day : the snow began to fall, and doubts 
arising as to the possibility of Mrs. Gilman's making her way under such 
circumstances, Mathews, with his inimitable talents of entering into the 
mind as well as the manner of others, walked up and down the drawing- 
room, and began to imitate Coleridge by anticipation, somewhat as 
follows : ' My dear Mr. Mathews, such was the inveteracy of the angry 
element in its fleecy descent, that to encounter it was barely possible to Mr. 
Gilman and myself. For one of the softer sex the affair was altogether 
impracticable. Mrs. Gilman, after making several efforts, was obliged to 
desist, and Mr. Gilman and I have therefore made our appearance without 
her.' Scarcely had we ceased to laugh at this exhibition when the gate- 
bell rung, and as the demon of imitation would have it the two men 
made their appearance, and Coleridge began, 'My dear Mr. Mathews, such 

ivas the inveteracy of the element,' &c and concluded almost in the 

language of the benevolent banker who had just discounted his oration. 
You may imagine the effect this produced upon our risible organs, which 
we with difficulty restrained." 



Charles Mathews. 3 1 3 

six or seven different disguises, and so complete his personation, 
particularly of Mr. Penny man (a favourite character of the 
actor's off the stage, and then first introduced to the public), 
that the audience on the first night, fairly taken in, failed to 
recognise his identity, and received him with perfect silence. 
The applause was of course rapturous on the discovery of the 
dovption. Barhanfs "Life of Hook" 

My nurse assured me that I was a long, thin, skewer of a 
child ; of a restless, fidgety temperament, and by no means 
regular features quite the contrary. The agreeable twist of 
my would-be features was occasioned by a species of hysteric 
fits to which I was subject in infancy, one of which distorted 
my mouth and eyebrows to such a degree as to render me 
almost hideous for a time ; though my partial nurse declared 
" my eyes made up for all, they were so bright and lively." Be 
this as it may, certain it is that after the recovery from this 
attack, folks laughed the moment they saw me, and said, " Bless 
the little dear ! it's not a beauty, to be sure ; but what a funny 
face it has !" The " off-side " of. my mouth, as a coachman 
would say, took such an affection for my ear, that it seemed to 
make a perpetual struggle to form a closer communication with 
it ; and one eyebrow became fixed as a rusty weathercock, 
while the other propped up an inch apparently beyond its 
proper position. The effects remain to this day, though 
moderated. Charles Mathews. 

The infinite variety of his transformations will be best shown 
by a brief description of the characters he personated. On the 
rising of the curtain he entered as Multiple, a strolling actor in 
great agitation at being refused an engagement by Velinspeck, a 
country manager, who, it appears, had expressed doubts of his 
talents, and particularly of his versatility. In a short soliloquy 
he announced his determination to convince this insulting 
manager of the grossness of his error, and departed to make 
the requisite preparations. We are next introduced to Mr. 
Velinspeck, who gives a ludicrous detail of the disasters which 
had befallen the various members of his company, and the 
straits to which he is in consequence reduced. His complaints 
are interrupted by a knocking at the door, and Mathews enters 
disguised as Matthew Stuffy, an applicant for a situation as 
prompter, for which he says he is peculiarly qualified by that 
affection of the eyes commonly called squinting, which enables 
him to keep one eye on the performers, and the other on the 



3 T 4 Charles Mathews. 

book at the same time. This Stuffy is one of the richest bits of 
humour we ever witnessed ; his endless eulogies upon the state 
of things " in the late immortal Mr. Garrick's time " are highly 
ludicrous. The prompter now departs, but is immediately 
succeeded by a French tragedian, who proposes to Vdinspeck an 
entertainment of recitation and singing. This character is 
intended for a portrait of Talma, and the resemblance must be 
instantly felt and acknowledged by all who are acquainted with 
the peculiarities of that Roscius of the French stage. It is 
always received with clamorous applause by those who have 
seen Talma, for its fidelity. The command of countenance 
which Mathews here displays is wonderful ; never was anything 
more completely French than the face he assumes, and never 
was any character dressed more to the life. Next enters Robin 
Scrawkey, a runaway apprentice, smit with the desire of 
" cleaving the general ear with horrid speech." After a 
ludicrous colloquy between him and the manager, he expresses 
his apprehension of being pursued by his master, and takes 
refuge in a room on the first floor, which is open to the 
audience. He here quickly, changes his dress, slips down the 
back stairs, and in the lapse of two minutes enters again as 
Andrew M 1 * Siller grip, a Scotch pawnbroker in search of his 
runaway apprentice, the aforesaid Robin Scrawkey, whom he 
pursues upstairs, and is heard to assail him with blows and 
violent abuse. He again alters his dress, and re-appears 
immediately as Mrs. M 1 - Siller grip, who expresses great fears of 
an attack upon her honour by the manager, and joins the 
imaginary party upstairs. The skill of Mathews in carrying on 
a conversation between three persons is here exercised with 
most astonishing effect. Finally, he enters as a fat Coachman 
out of patience at waiting for three worthies, whom he has 
engaged to convey to Dover ; and presently, to the utmost 
astonishment and confusion of the manager, convinces him that 
the whole of the characters who have appeared before him have 
been personated by the identical comedian whose talents 
he had just before estimated so lightly. Contemporary 
Paper? 

He seems to have continuous chords in his mind that vibrate 
to those in the minds of others, as he gives not only the looks, 



1 I have transcribed this critique that the reader of this book may form 
some idea of the extraordinary talent exhibited by the great comedian. ED. 



Charles Mather *. 3 1 5 

tones, and manners of the persons lie personifies, but their very 
trims of thinking, and the expressions they indulge in. Lord 
Byron, 

It was evident that Mathews was to be looked into as well as 
at. IVrplexingly various were the shapes he assumed in the 
course of any single evening's performance; but hou- 
perfect his successive portraitures, the entertaining links of 
introduction and connexion evidenced the intrinsic man. 
vAv/V/-, in J'hiser's Magazine, 1833. 

The public is only aware of his genius I and his intimate 
friends know also his private worth ; and if I may mix up one 
M his private good qualities with his public talents, I can assert 
that I never knew a man more scrupulously but unaffectedly 
honourable and honest in all his theatrical dealings with me, 
and his engagements with me were merely verbal. George 
Coltnan. 1 

There was but one Charles Mathews in the world there 
never can be such another ! Mimics, buffoons, jesters, wags, and 
even admirable comedians we shall never want ; but what are the 
best of them compared to him ? Horace Smith"' 

His acting was not like that of even the best of his con- 
temporaries, a mere representation of some striking peculiarities 
of character, but it was a complete and perfect identification. 
Joshua Barnes. 

Poor Mathews ! he was a man of harmless eccentricities, 
and of the strangest anomalies. Amid the many things that 
he believed, or affected to believe, one was, that "no man ever 
caught a fish by rod and line." " No, no," he would exclaim, 



1 In a letter from one of Mathews's correspondents, dated 1824, occurs 
the following interesting passage : "I have met at the house of the father 
of my worthy colleague, John Hamilton Reynolds, an odd, quaint being, 
by name Thomas Hood. He appears to be too modest to let a pun ; but 
when it is effected it is capital. On better acquaintance (though he is the 
most shy cock I ever encountered) I think I perceive under his disguise one 
of the shrewdest wags of this age. I predict that before your present 
authors are worn bare he will be your man." 

8 Mathews, whose powers in conversation, and whose flow of anecdote in 
private life transcended his public efforts, told a variety of tales of the Kings- 
wood colliers, in one of which he represented an old collier looking for 
some of the implements of his trade, exclaiming, "Jan, what's thee mother 
done with the new coal-sacks?" " Made pillow-cases on 'em," replied the 
son. "Confound her proud heart !" rejoins the collier; " why couldn't she 
take fould ones ?" Records of a Veteran. 



3 1 6 Charles Mathews. 

" a net might deceive anything, but fishes are not such cursed 
fools as not to know that cat-gut and wire isn't good for 'em !" 
He had au intense, an unceasing love of approbation, and this 
led him occasionally obtrusively to occupy the attention of the 
company he was in. I once actually heard him sing fourteen 
comic songs (those strange mixtures of melody and mimicry 
which were created by, lived, and died with him) in one 
evening. He implicitly believed in his own tragic powers ; he 
felt he had the mind to conceive, and as far as enunciation 
alone went the power to execute ; he did not see that his 
appearance, his gesture, and his eternal restlessness, all partook 
of the ludicrous. He was a little prone to speech-making at 
public meetings, and was on the tenterhooks to bring forth 
some witticisms that should " set the table in a roar ;" his ex- 
temporaneous jokes, however, were seldom good. He had no 
eye for painting ; the most miserable daubs were foisted on 
him, and as he affected a taste, he was continually the victim 
of print and picture dealers. He could not bear (few can) to 
have the genuineness of any original painting or curiosity in 
his collection impugned. A celebrated upholsterer going 
through Mathews's gallery, was called upon to admire the 
cassolette (sent to Garrick with the freedom of Stratford, and 
purchased by Mathews at an enormous price), made of the 
Shakspeare mulberry tree. The gentleman in question, who 
was a connoisseur in wood, declared that the material was of 
walnut, not of mulberry. Mathews grew livid with anger, his 
rage was really awful ; and this trivial circumstance (for the 
man of furniture persisted) wholly estranged the parties. He 
had what might be termed a knack at music, but he was not a 
musician ; he played the violin with taste (his original tutor was 
Mr. Charles Cummins, Professor of Music, Leeds, who when a 
boy was, with his father, Mr. Cummins, the Yorkshire Kemble, 
in all the towns of the northern circuit, where Mathews was 
then low comedian) ; could play a little on the piano and 
organ, and was fond of attempting any instrument that came 
in his way. His industry in his art, and in all that in any way, 
however remotely, appertained to it, had no parallel ; he was 
studying fresh characters to the day of his death. Records of a 
Veteran, I835. 1 

1 The Rev. Julian Young, in his Diary appended to his veiy brief 
Memoir of his father, speaks frequently of Mathews. " He certainly was 



, 



Charles Mathews. 3 1 7 

Mathews, " whose eye begets occasion for his wit," once told 
me of his going a day's journey with an asthmatic passenger, 
not dangerously ill, although muffled up in a nightcap and 
flannels, who never attempted to utter except when the stage 
stopped at an inn ; but at every house of call, where the waiter 
came to the coach door with the usual " please to light, 
t m imiK 11 :" the gasping invalid breathed out to him, as well as 
he could, " Jinttcr-inilk /" The pen can produce no effect from 
so simple an incident, but Mathews, with one touch of his 
extraordinary talent, can give you the very man can present 
him to your eyes and ears, stuck up in the corner of a coach, 
and butter-milking it to the very life. It is one of those 
portraits (with the addition of vocal resemblance) which you 
would swear must be like, although you never saw the original 
humorous as a sketch by Hogarth, chaste as a picture by 
AVilkie. George Colman* 



unique," he says, " in his way, and full of incongruities. I never knew any 
man so alive to the eccentricities of others who was so dead to his own. I 
never knew a man who made the world laugh so much, who laughed 
so seldom himself. I never knew a man who, when in society, could make 
the dullest merry, so melancholy out of it. I have seen him grind his teeth 
and assume a look of anguish when a haunch of venison has been carved 
unskilfully in his presence. I have seen him, though in high feather and 
high talk when in a sunny chamber, if transferred to a badly-lighted room, 
withdraw into a corner and sit by himself in moody silence. He was 
strangely impressionable to externals. I have known him refuse permis- 
sion to a Royal Duke to see over his picture-gallery on Highgate Hill, be- 
cause the day of his call was cloudy." Other eccentricities are enume- 
rated, and the whole closes with a just eulogy on his private worth. 

1 Theodore Hook was perhaps the only man of his day who beat 
Mathews as a practical joker. Such a genius for contriving mischief there 
never was. He would carry a highlander from a tobacconist's shop, after 
dark, and stagger with it towards a cab in which he would deposit the 
painted figure, giving the cabman the address, perhaps, of some influential per- 
son, and bidding him drive carefully as the gentleman inside was a nobleman 
slightly intoxicated. Once finding himself in a cab without money to 
discharge the hire, he had himself driven to a doctor's. On his arrival he 
rung the bell furiously, and finding the doctor at home, entreated him with 
a pale and concerned face to carry his instruments at once to such-and- 
such an address, as there was a lady lying there whose life might now, 
whilst he spoke, be leaving her. There was a cab at the door ; would the 
doctor jump in ? The doctor did jump in, and was driven to the residence 
of a very decorous spinster, who had no sooner learned his mission, than she 
made at him with her nails and drove him into the street. The doctor 
very sullenly returned to his house ; nor could he get rid of the cabman 
till he had paid him the full fare he had demanded with many menaces and 



3 1 8 Charles Mathews. 

Dined with James Ballantyne, and met R. Cadell and my old 
friend Mathews the comedian, with his son, now grown up a 
clever lad, who makes songs in the style of James Smith or 
Colman, and sings them with spirit There have been odd 
associations attending my two last meetings with Mathews. 
The last time I saw him he dined with me in company with 
poor Sir Alexander Boswell, who was killed within a week. 
The time before was in 1815. Poor Byron lunched with us at 
Long's. I never saw Byron so full of fun, frolic, wit, and 
whim ; he was as playful as a kitten. Well, I never saw him 
again. So this man of mirth, with his merry meetings, has 
brought me no luck. I should like better that he should 
throw in his talent of mimicry and humour into the prese-nt 
current tone of the company, than that he should be required 
to give this, that, and t'other bit, selected from his public 
recitations. They are good, certainly excellent; but then 
you must laugh, and that is always severe to me. Sir W. 
Scott. 

He's the tallest man in the world, and the funniest. He 
has no regular mouth, but speaks from a little hole in his 
cheek. Williajii Lewis? 

Few public characters have been more free than Mr. 
Mathews from stain or blackening shade. His faults were not 



some oaths. Some ordinary habits of his were to hang pieces of meat on 
the bell-handles of suburban villas, in the evening, so that during the night 
every stray dog that happened to pass would give a tug ; by this means the 
bell would be set ringing five times an hour to the consternation of the 
family, who, with candles in hand, might in vain search the garden, or peep 
into the road for the cause. He would cut signboards in half, and affix the 
odd pieces to each other, so that the signboard owners next day would have 
the pleasure of witnessing their various occupations interpreted by the most 
ridiculous announcements in the world. He would stitch his friend's clothes 
up in such a fashion that when, on the following morning, the friend got 
into them, the conclusion that he would at once jump to was that he had 
from some extraordinary and unaccountable cause become fearfully swelled 
during the night a conclusion which Hook would take care to confirm 
by expressing his great concern at his friend's appearance, and entreating 
him to be allowed to call a doctor. ED. 

1 The comedian's idea of Mathews' height was an error generally shared 
by all who saw him. Mathews' height was five feet ten inches ; but his 
slimness m ide him pass for a giant. Tate Wilkinson called him a may* 
pole and pronounced him too tall for low comedy. "You're too thi 
sir," said he, " for anything but the Apothecary in ' Romeo and Julie 
and added, " that he had never seen anybody so thin to be alive." 



P 



Charles Mat/iews. 3 1 9 

vices, but foibles ; the chief, perhaps the only serious one, was 
an occasional and not unfrequent fretfulness or irritability, 
which was the more remarkable from its contrast with his 
usual good temper and high spirits. It was, we believe, a 
nervous defect arising from a naturally delicate constitution, 
weakened by successive accidents, and may probably have 
checked his success as an actor, by causing a hurry and un- 
easiness in those performances in which he felt at all insecure 
of the sympathy of his audience. Thus he often seemed to 
want, especially in the more regular drama, the ease, and, as it 
it is called, the Uplomb^ which never failed him in his own 
peculiar performances his " At Homes." He had always an 
ambition to be thought a great comedian, and a repugnance to 
the reputation of a mimic / and this made him restless and 
uncomfortable in the winter theatres, where his talents as an 
actor, though certainly considerable, did not place him quite 
in the foremost line of comedy, liut this annoyance was un- 
reasonable ; his competitors were the most powerful artists, 
and if he was not so great a comic actor as the one or the other 
of these, he had a vein of comic invention which none of them 
approached. Mimicry was not its essence, but simply one of 
its means. Its essence was the perception and appropriation 
of what was comic in actual nature, not only in her manners, 
which are the materials of the mimic, but in her characters, 
which are the proper subjects of the dramatist. Such a talent 
seems to us to take its place not only above that of the mere 
mimic, but above that of the mere actor, however excellent in 
his art, and to vindicate its place in the same compartment 
with the writers of our broader comedy. Quarterly Review > 
1839- 

1 In Coleridge's autobiography is preserved a remark which Mathews 
might have heard the poet utter : "The talent for mimicry seems strongest 
where the human race are most degraded. The poor, naked, half-human 
savages of New Holland were found excellent mimics ; and in civilized 
society minds of the veiy lowest stamp alone satirize by copying" 
Biog. Lit., vol. i. Yet our greatest actors have been admirable mimics 
Garrick, Foote, Kemble, Henderson, Emery, Munden, &c. Of these 
Garrick and Foote publicly performed imitations designed to satirize. ED. 



320 

Miss Mellon (Duchess of St. Albans.) 

1775-1837- 

There might be often seen Harriet Mellon, 1 then a youthful, 
slim, and beautiful creature ; she would come all joy and 
simplicity for a day's recreation. How merry and happy she 
was ! perhaps happier than when splendour hedged her in 
from the enjoyment of simple pleasures, the love of which I 
believe to have been inherent in her nature. I see her now, 
returning from a tumble in a neighbouring pond, in the middle 
of which her horse had unexpectedly chosen to drink. How 
unaffectedly she protested, when dragged out, that she did not 
care for the accident, and walked home, though with difficulty, 
across the common, with her muslin garments saturated with 
muddy water, and her beautiful hair dripping down her back ! 
How we laughed while we aftenvards dragged off the wet 
clothes from her fine form ! Then again, what peals of merri- 
ment attended her reappearance in the borrowed ill-fitting 
dress that had been cast upon her, and the uncouth turban that 
bound her straightened hair ! Life of Charles Mathews. 

The public do not generally know that Coutts was not the 
first banker who had distinguished this young actress. When 
she was in Stanton's company, Mr. Wright, a banker at 
Stafford, showed her great attention ; and it was creditable as 
well as valuable, for his wife and daughters concurred in pro- 
tecting her. It was there that the member, Sheridan, 2 saw her, 



1 She was twice married : first to Mr. Coutts, the banker, and then to 
the Duke of St. Albans. She made her appearance at Covent Garden on 
the 3 1st of January, 1795, as Lydia Languish, in the " Rivals." ED. 

2 Mrs. Wilson has written of this meeting with Sheridan : Sheridan 
had written to desire that Miss Mellon would call on him. "With 
admirable coolness he told her that a young actress having seceded from 
his company, Miss Mellon had always been kept ' in his mind,' as he had 
formerly said, and had now a chance of taking the absent lady's place, and 
as a specimen of her declamation, he requested her to read the scenes of 
Lydia Languish and Mrs. Malaprop aloud from his own play of ' The 
Rivals.' She felt greatly frightened, and answered, with the naive un- 
affected manner which she retained through life, ' I dare not, sir, for my 
life 1 I would rather read it to all England. Suppose, sir, you did me the 
honour of reading it to me ?' There was something so unassuming and 
child-like in the way she made this daring request that the manager 
entered into the oddity of the matter, and read nearly the whole play * 






Miss Mellon. 321 

and conceived he might strengthen himself abroad and at home by 
giving her an immediate engagement at Drury Lane. She was 
certainly above mediocrity as an actress, though I used to 
think too careless to do all that she might have done. Her 
figure was elegant in those days, and there was rather a comic 
expression in her countenance. Had Jordan never appeared 
she might have reached the first rank and been contented with 
her station in the theatre. Few, in any kind of miscarriage, 
have received such ample consolation. Chance itself once 
contributed a prize of io,ooo/. to this minion of Fortune's 
frolic. I think there seems to have been a good deal of 
sagacity in her conduct ; she saw her object with that single- 
ness which is necessary to all great success, and made her very 
disposition itself a herald to her elevation. I never thought 
her one of those who 

" Plan secret good, and blush to find it fame." 

But a little ostentation may be pardoned in our imperfect 
virtue. Boaden. 

Miss Mellon was one evening standing near the green-room 
fire, and while waiting for the play to begin she was humming 
some popular dance, and just tracing the steps unconsciously. 
She was roused by the voice of Miss Farren, whispering, " You 
happy girl ; I would give worlds to be like you." Poor Miss 
Mellon, recollecting her thirty-shilling salary, thought she was 
ridiculed by "a lady with thirty guineas a week, who was to 
marry a lord ;" and she replied with some slight vexation, " that 
there certainly must be a vast deal to be envied in her position 
by one who commanded what she pleased !" Pressing her hand 
kindly, Miss Farren's eyes became full of tears, as she replied, 
" I cannot command such a light heart as prompted your little 
song." Mrs. Wilson's " Life of the Duchess of St. A/bans." 

Mrs. Coutts, with the Duke of St. Albans and Lady Charlotte 
Beauclerk, called to take leave of us. When at Abbotsford, 
his suit throve but coldly. She made me, I believe, a con- 
fidant in sincerity. She had refused him twice, and decidedly : 
he was merely on the footing of friendship. I urged it was 



his delighted young auditor. She became so identified with the drama thai 
she forgot all dread of the author, and on his request she read the scenes 
of Lydia and her Aunt with so much spirit that Mr. Sheridan ' applauded 
repeatedly,' told her she could play either character, and gave her au 
engagement. " 

Y 



322 John List on. 

akin to love. She allowed she might marry the Duke, only she 
had at present not the least intention that way. It is the fashion 
to attend Mrs. Coutts's parties, and to abuse her. I have 
always found her a kind, friendly woman, without either affecta- 
tion or insolence in the display of her wealth ; most willing to 
do good if the means be shown her. She can be very enter- 
taining too, and she speaks without scruple of her stage life. 
So much wealth can hardly be enjoyed without ostentation. 
Sir W. Scott* 

John Listen. 2 
1776-1846. 

There is one face of Farley, one face of Knight, one (but 
what a one it is !) of Listen. C. Lamb. 

It is a curious fact that the greater portion of our best come- 
dians made, by their own choice, their dramatic entree upon 
tragedy stilts. Among these may be numbered Munden, Lewis, 
Bannister, Elliston, Jones, Dowton, Bartley, Wrench, and last, 
but " not least in our dear love," the exquisite Liston. Mrs. 
C. Mathews. 

1 Lockhart, in his " Life of Scott," devotes several pages to an account 
of a visit paid to Sir Walter by the Duchess, who was then Mrs. Coutts. 
She arrived at Abbotsford with a train of three carriages, each drawn by 
four horses. Her retinue consisted of her future lord, the Duke of St. 
Albans, one of his Grace's sisters, a sort of "lady in waiting," two 
physicians, "and, besides other menials of every grade, two bed-chamber 
women for Mrs. Coutts' own person, she requiring to have this article also 
in duplicate, because in her widowed condition she was fearful of ghosts." 
There were already assembled at Abbotsford several ladies of high rank, 
Who, witnessing this ostentation on the part of an actress who, when a girl, 
had been chased from her home by a vulgar virago of a mother, took it 
into their heads to snub her. The good-natured Sir Walter, pained at the 
conduct of his noble guests, took the youngest and prettiest of them aside, 
and lectured her on her manners. The beautiful peeress thanked him for 
treating her as his daughter ; and one by one the other ladies being made 
to run the gauntlet of Sir Walter's rebukes, Mrs. Coutts was speedily set 
at ease. The narrative is curious as a typical illustration of the sen- 
timents with which the society to which Harriet Mellon claimed to beloii 
regarded her. ED. 

2 Liston, as well as G. F. Cooke, seemed privileged to take what li 
ties he liked with his audience. Barham tells an anecdote of Hook, w 

in conjunction with Liston, played the following trick off on some country 
friends of his : A young gentleman, the son of a baronet, wished to 
escort his affiancee to a London theatre. Hook procured them two dress- 
circle seats. When the curtain rose, Liston (who had been primed 



John List on. 323 

The great peculiarity of Liston's manner, on and off the stage, 
is its gravity. What he says is less remarkable than the way 
in which he says it. A fellow-performer, who adds to the de- 
fect of stuttering a love of telling long and tedious stories, 
was speaking of some person who had gone abroad, and en- 
deavouring to recollect the place : " He has gone to to let's 
see ; it wasn't Pennsylvania no, no ." " Perhaps, sir," said 
Liston, without moving a muscle, " perhaps it was Penton- 
ville." On another occasion, a performer, at the close of the 
season, gave Mr. Liston the gratuitous information that he was 
going to Plymouth. " I have a friend there," said Liston ; 
"and perhaps you'll do me the favour to take &bag of salt- 
K'litcr to him from me." Records of a Stage Veteran, 1826.* 

Liston is exquisite in his line : Edwin was equally so. The 
rich humour of these two eminent artists is distinct. That of 
the departed comedian was peculiar to himself, and (as the 
living actor now singeth) " vice varsay ;" but I know not how 
I can better express my opinion of both than by stating that I 
admire Liston now as I admired Edwin formerly ; and, that 
when Edwin was, and Liston is in his element, I have no con- 
ception of a greater comic treat than the performance of either. 
George Colman. 

He is the best quiet comedian that we remember. This style, 
we admit, is not regarded as his forte by the world, nor per- 
haps altogether by himself, for nothing moves the populace 



Hook) appeared : his first words were greeted with laughter ; he paused, 
looked round him with an offended air, and approaching the footlights, ex- 
claimed, melodramatically, " I don't understand this conduct, ladies and 
gentlemen. I am not accustomed to be laughed at. I can't imagine what 

you can see ridiculous in me. Why, I declare, there's Harry B , too, 

And his cousin, Martha J ," pointing full at the country couple; " what 

business have they to come here and laugh at me, I should like to know ? 
I'll go and tell his father, and hear what he thinks of it." The audience 
to a man turned and stared at the unfortunate pair, who, probably imagin- 
ing they were in a madhouse, scrambled from their seats and rushed from 
the house, amid peals of laughter. ED. 

1 He was a great punster. Once whilst at Plymouth, a youthful mid- 
shipman swaggered into the theatre flourishing his dirk. "Why don't 
you attend to the announcement at the bottom of the bills," said Liston to 
the doorkeeper. " Can't you read ' Children in arms not admitted.'" He 
once asked Mathews to play for his benefit. Mathews having to act else- 
where, excused himself by saying, " He would if he could, but he couldn't 
split himself in halves." "I don't know that," said Liston: "I have 
often seen you play in two pieces." 

Y 2 



324 John Liston. 

but buffooneries, and the actor must have peculiar strength of 
mind who does not barter his judgment for huzzas. But a 
hundred others can equal Liston in setting the rabble in a roar. 
His exclusive province is calm drollery the laugh which he 
excites without exhibiting, and the easy pungency with which the 
sarcasm is shot, apparently without taking aim at any one. 
BlackwoocTs Magazine, 1840. 

Give Liston the ghost of a character, he invested its thin- 
ness in corporeal substance : or, to choose another illustration, 
an outline of figure was all that was wanting to his art ; he in- 
fused into it the richness of his own comic imagination, in aid 
of irresistible features, and completed the work designed by 
another hand. Boaden. 

Mr. Liston, long promised, has at last appeared, and has 
played in his most felicitous style. He stands more on his 
dignity than he did at his old quarters : he does not use the 
same freedoms to the audience or the performers into which 
he was apt to deviate ; and accordingly, his acting gives more 
unmingled satisfaction than usual. His humour is, in itself, of 
so rich and abundant a cast, that it is best when most chastened 
and confined within the strictest boundaries when it is not 
lavished on questionable irregularities, but seems always ready 
to overflow and scarcely to be " constrained by mastery." He 
played Young Master Laun celot, in the " Merchant of Venice," to 
Mr. Kean's Shy lock ; and the play, as acted by them, afforded one 
of the richest combinations of talent recently seen. Talfourd. 

John Liston, a very popular actor of low comedy, whose 
natural humour and peculiar drolleries afforded many a rich 
treat to the playgoers of London, was born in St. Anne's 
parish, Soho, and in the early period of his life was engaged in 
the uninviting employment of a teacher in a day-school. For- 
saking the thraldom of a schoolroom and fancying he possessed 
the necessary requisites for the stage, he formed an acquain- 
tance with, and often exhibited as an amateur performer on th< 
same boards as the late Charles Mathews, both of whom 
first mistook their forte, and strutted forth as heroes in tragedy. 
Having made sundry provincial trips, he was at length seen 
Newcastle by Mr. C. Kemble, who recommended him to Mr. 
Colman, and he appeared in 1805 before a London audience 
at the Haymarket. He also obtained an engagement at 
Covent Garden, where he remained, increasing in public favour 
till 1823, when Elliston having offered him 407. a week. h< 



Charles Maync Young. 325 

transferred his services to Drury Lane, and continued there till 
1831, but the enormous salary of ioo/. a week tempted him to 
enlist under the banners of Madame Vestris at the Olympic 
Theatre, where he performed six seasons, and may be said to 
have closed his theatrical career. He died rich. Memoir of 
John Liston. 

Charles Mayne Young. 

1777-1856. 

Those who can recollect Young's Hamlet must admit that it 
has never been excelled since his day, and I question if it has 
ever been equalled. W. Donaldson. 

He was certainly a t once the next best actor to Kemble a 
man of reading and reflection, with a graceful person, expres- 
sive countenance, and fine sonorous voice. Boaden. 

He stands certainly next to Kemble in tragedy. C. R. 
Leslie. 

He is a mannerist as well as Kean a mannerist in a more 
graceful and polished style and so far he has unquestionably 
the advantage. But the great question is What is he besides 
this ? In our judgment there is not the least comparison in all 
that most touches, elevates, and subdues in all those parts 
where manner is forgotten ; and " one touch of nature makes 
the whole world kin." Mr. Young's art, though far above 
Kean's, is as much below that of Kemble. It is not only less 
majestical, but has not the same poetical proportion and har- 
mony. His mode of treading the stage is firm, intelligent, and 
decisive ; but his action, noble in itself, is not only redundant, 
but out of keeping. He gives us a picturesque accompaniment 
to a mere meditation ; to what is calmly passing in his own mind, 
or to a description of a past event, the same sweep of arm 
or violent clasping of hands, which he would use when in 
actual struggle with present and visible agencies. Thus, while 
in some degree he raises words into things, he also half melts 
down actions into words. He too often plays the orator in his 
soliloquies, and the philosopher in his passionate encounters. 
His voice is most musical in passages of continuous melan- 
choly most potent in energetic declamation ; but has very 
little sweet 'gradation in its tones. It flows along in a full, deep, 
rapid stream, Or winds plaintively on through all the course of 
philosophic thought ; but it has no undercurrents no eddies 



326 Charles Mayne Young* 

of playful tenderness. He is altogether most excellent where 
one single feeling has to be developed where one point is to 
be perpetually insisted on where one leading idea governs the 
whole character. In a part of mournful beauty he is perfectly 
delicious the very personification of a melodious sigh. Again, 
in a proud soldierly character, or an indignant patriot, where 
there is one firm purpose, he plays in a fiery spirit entirely his 
own. And, in a piece where the declamation abounds in 
images of pomp and luxury, he displays a rich Oriental manner 
which no one can rival. Leigh Hunt. 

I had never seen Young act ! Every one about me told me he 
could not hold a farthing rushlight to me ; but he can ! He is an 
actor ; and though I flatter myself that he could not act OtJiello 
as I do, yet what chance should I have in lago after him, with 
his personal advantages and his d musical voice ? I don't 
believe he could play Jaffier as well as I can ; but fancy me in 
Pierre after him ! I tell you what, Young is not only an actor 
such as I did not dream him to have been, but he is a gentle- 
man ! Edmund Kean. 

In figure, stature, and deportment, Young had the advantage 
over Kean, for he had height which Kean had not ; and 
though Young's limbs were not particularly well moulded, he 
moved them gracefully; and his head, and throat, and bust 
were classically moulded. He trod the boards with freedom. 
His countenance was equally well adapted for the expression 
of pathos or of pride : thus in such parts as Hamlet, B ever ley, The 
Stranger, Daran, Pierre, Zanga, and Cassius, he looked the 
men he represented. His voice was full-bodied, rich, power- 
ful, and capable of every variety of modulation, and therefore, 
in declamatory power, he was greatly superior to Kean and 
Kemble too. Rev. J. Young, " Life of C. Young." 

His performance of Hamlet, if it be not fully equal to 
Shakspeare's design, is an elegant and striking piece of acting, 
and has a degree of popularity which justified its repetitions. 
In the frenzy and sorrows of Lear, and in the knavery of 
Shy lock, his powers are perhaps less in their element. He is 
excellent in parts where there is no great undulation of feeling, 
where one single passion is to be wrought out by repeated 
efforts, each rising above the other in power and effect ; where 
graceful and energetic action will supply the defects of an in- 
dexible countenance, and sonorous declamation will render 
nice gradation of tone and delicacy cf inflection needless, 



John Emery. 327 

There are characters in which he is unrivalled and almost per- 
fect : his Pierre, if not so lofty, is more natural and soldierly 
even than Kemble's ; his Chamont is full of brotherly pride, 
noble impetuosity, and heroic scorn ; and his Jaques is " most 
musical, most melancholy," attuned to the very tempera- 
ment of the gentle wood-walks among which he muses. There 
are some peculiar parts in comedy, too, which he gives with 
singular truth as a testy philanthropist, or an eccentric hu- 
morist, with a vein of kindness beneath his oddities. Charac- i 
ters of this description will in his hands become almost as vivid 
as in those of Terry, while he will lend to them a degree of 
refinement, and sometimes impart to them a tinge of poetical 
and romantic colouring, which that admirable actor cannot 
bestow. New Monthly Magazine, 1822. 

John Emery. 
1777-1822. 

Emery, like Liston, possessed those qualities which indicate 
the first-rate artist pathos and humour ; and never since 
Emery's death has Dandle Dinmont, Tyke, or Giles, been 
brought out in such bold and original relief. 1 W. Donaldson. 

Emery, though not literally born in Yorkshire, was bred 
there. Few men were so highly accomplished as this comedian. 
He was an excellent musician, and played the violin at twelve 
years of age in the orchestra ; he was a fine draughtsman, and 
painted in oil with the skill of an artist. Perhaps no man was 
ever so completely successful as Emery in the Yorkshire 
character ; it appeared through life to have been " meat and 
drink to him to see a clown." He was so perfect a represen- 
tative of the loutish cunning of the three Ridings, that it was 
difficult to believe that he had, or could have any personal or 
mental qualities to discriminate the man from the actor. To 
say truth, he delighted to exhibit " the knowing lad," and he 



1 A notable delineation of Emery was Tyke, in "The School of Reform." 
Acting this once, a sailor in the pit was so enraged at Tykt's duplicity 
that but for his messmates he would have jumped on the stage, and 
soundly thrashed Emery. At the scene in the fourth act, when Tyke finds 
the old man, whose purse he takes, to be his father, and exclaims, " What ! 
rob my own feyther!" the sailor, unable to contain himself, roared, in a 
passion, " Yes, you vagabond ; you'd rob a church !" ED. 



328 John Emery. 

had a fund of stories, which he told in the green-room of the 
theatre, and at table where he dined, some of which have 
surely never been equalled for exactness. Boaden. 

His style was as much his own, and his excellence in it as 
far removed from approach, as that of any actor we have ever 
seen. His faculty of portraying stupidity enlivened by one 
single ray of acuteness ; of exhibiting stout and stony profligacy ; 
of hitting off to the life provincial knaveries and peculiarities, 
would at any time have rendered him popular. But not for 
his perfection in these representations did we chiefly admire 
him living, or desire to remember him now he is gone. His 
forte lay in showing the might of human passion and affection, 
not only unaided by circumstance, but attended by everything 
which could tend to associate them with the ludicrous or the 
vulgar. The parts in which he displayed this prodigious power 
were as far as possible removed from the elegant and romantic ; 
and his own stout frame, and broad, iron countenance did not 
give him any extrinsic aid to refine or exalt them. But in 
spite of all these obstacles, the energy of passion or the 
strength of agony was triumphant. Every muscle was strained 
to bursting, every fibre informed with sense and feeling, every 
quiver of the .lip and involuntary motion of the hands spoke 
the might of that emotion which he was more than counterfeit- 
ing ; and all little provincialisms, all traits of vulgarity, were 
forgotten in wonder and sympathy. A small portion of his 
feeling and energy, infused into a person of graceful figure and 

refined taste, would make a popular tragedian Among 

the classical heroes of the stage he was a kind of Antaeus, earth- 
born, yet gigantic. His Tyke was the grandest specimen of 
the rude sublime ; his Gilts, in the " Miller's Man," was 
almost as intense, and the whole conception of a loftier cast 
Talfonrd. 

He was born at Sunderland, Durham, on the 22nd of 
December, 1777, and was educated at Ecclesfield, in the West 
Riding of Yorkshire, where he doubtless acquired that know- 
ledge of the dialect which obtained for him so much celebrity, 
He may be said to have been born an actor, both his paren 
having followed that occupation with some degree of provinci 
fame. His father designed him for the orchestra, but, aspirin 
to the honours of the stage, he laid aside the fiddle for t 
notes of dramatic applause, which he obtained on his first ap- 
pearance in Crazy (" Peeping Tom") at the Brighton Ti eat 



John Emery. 329 

He afterwards joined the York Company, under the eccentric 
Tate Wilkinson, who spoke of him, as Mathews states, as " a 
great actor ;" which opinion was confirmed \>y a London 
audience on his first appearance at Covent Garden Theatre in 
the year 1798, on which occasion he selected the very opposite 
characters of Frank Oakland, in " A Cure for the Heartache," 
and Lovegold, in the farce of " The Miser," in both of which 
parts he obtained great applause. To enumerate the many 
characters he has since so ably sustained would be superfluous, 
though it may not, perhaps, be deemed impertinent to point out 
the variety of his histrionic powers. In the arch, unsophisti- 
cated son of nature, he was excellent ; in the stupid dolt he 
was equally so ; and in old men, in their various shades, he has 
been allowed to have been no mean proficient. In parts 
designedly written for him he had no competitor, and Tyke 
(" School of Reform"), and Giles (" Miller's Man"), in parts of 
which his acting was truly terrific and appalling, will long, we 
fear, want representatives. Besides his histrionic powers, 
Emery was otherwise highly gifted by nature. He was an ex- 
cellent musician, playing finely on the violin a taste for 
poetizing (if we may be pardoned the expression), as his 
numerous songs will testify ; an artist of no ordinary talent 
his drawings of coast-scenery particularly, being much admired, 
and when offered for sale fetching high prices. He died at his 
house in Hyde Street, Bloomsbury, London, July 25th, aged 
forty-five years. He had been for some time indisposed, 
and died from a thorough decay of nature. Memoir, 1822. 

Nothing could be more earnest or true than the manner of 
Mr. Emery ; this told excellently in his Tyke, and characters of 
a tragic cast. But when he carried the same rigid exclusive- 
ness of attention to the stage business, and wilful blunders and 
oblivion of everything before the curtain into his comedy, it 
produced a harsh and dissonant effect. He was out of keeping 
with the rest of the dramatis persona. There was as little 
link between him and them as betwixt himself and the 
aud ience. Charles Lamb. 



330 

Montague Talbot. 
1778-1831. 

First Talbot comes the first indeed 

But fated never to succeed 

In the discerning eyes of those 

Who form their taste on Kemble's nose 

And deem that genius a dead loss is 

Without dark brows and long proboscis, 

Talbot certainly must despair 

To rival Kemble's sombrous stare, 

Or reach that quintessence of charms 

With which black Roscius folds his arms 

A trifling air and stripling form, 

Ill-fitted to the tragic storm ; 

A baby face, that sometimes shows 

Alike in transports and in woes, 

Will ne'er permit him to resemble 

Or soar the tragic flights of Kemble ; 

Yet in some scenes together placed, 

With greater feeling, equal taste, 

From a judicious audience draws 

As much and as deserved applause. 

But whatsoe'er his tragic claim, 

He reigns o'er comedy supreme 

By art and nature chastely fit 

To play the gentleman or wit ; 

Not Harris's nor dolman's boards, 

Not all that Drury Lane affords, 

dan paint the rakish Charles so well, 

Or give such life to Mirabel ; 

Or show for light and airy sport 

So exquisite a Doricourt. Crofton Croker. 

Montague Talbot was the light comedian of Dublin. His 
line of characters was the elegant and refined gentleman of the 
old school. Talbot was a distinct actor from Lewis, who 
excelled in another range. With such rare qualities Talbot 
could not get a position in London. Both of the great houses 
were barred against him, and finding metropolitan renown wi 
out of his reach, he determined to remain in a land that apj 



:; 



way 
) P re. 



Montague Talbot. 331 

elated his abilities ; and in 1809 the Belfast Theatre came under 
his sway, where for a number of years he ruled the destinies 
of the drama with credit and honour. Walter Donaldson. 

Henry Ireland had been an early associate and friend of 
Montague Talbot. They resided vis-a-vis, in chambers on the 
ground floor, in a narrow court in the Temple when youths. 
They had but one heart, one mind ; all between them was 
candour and confidence. It happened, however, that all at 
pnce Talbot found his friend reserved in his manner and secluded 
in his habits. The suddenness of the change was remarkable. 
It was evident that Ireland had some secret and absorbing 
occupation ; and whenever Talbot attempted to enter his friend's 
chamber, he found the door locked, and always had to wait a 
few minutes before he obtained admission. He then observed 
that Ireland's desk was closed and all papers hidden a new 
custom. At first Talbot rallied Ireland upon his unwonted 
reserve, then reproached him for it. All was alike in vain : 
Ireland seemed resolved that he should not penetrate the " heart 
of his mystery," and Talbot's curiosity was upon the rack. 
One morning, the day being warm, Ireland had opened the 
window of his den, and placing himself before it at his desk, 
with the door locked, he was so situated as to be able to 
discern an interloper. Thus it seemed impossible that a sur- 
prise could happen. Talbot withdrew from his own desk also 
at the window for some time, in order to lull suspicion in 
Ireland's mind, and afterwards crept out of his door upon his 
hands and knees, till he arrived under the window, where his 
unconscious friend sat in fancied security. Talbot then raised 
himself slowly and quietly, and when he had attained the 
window-sill, dexterously darted up and pounced upon Ireland's 
papers Thus caught, poor Ireland made a merit of com- 
municating what he could no longer withhold, and ingenuously 
owned his Shakspeare forgeries to his friend, before public detec- 
tion, in a no less determined manner, compelled him to make 
his confessions to the world. From this moment Talbot saw 
the progress of his clever imposition, although he did not assist 
in it. 1 Life of Mat hews. 



1 Ireland was sixteen years of age when he forged a series of papers 
which he ascribed to Shakspeare. The papers wer submitted to a number 
of literary persons, among whom were Dr. Parr, James Boswell, Herbert 
Croft, Pye (poet laureate), and Valpy, who wrote the following certificate 
"We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, have, in the presence and 



332 Richard Jones. 

Talbot was an admirable young Mirabel and the like ; he was 
so learned in the art of the toilet, that he not only painted with 
a cameFs-hair brush his moustache and whiskers upon his lip 
and cheeks, but also painted in sepia and Indian ink curls upon 
his forehead, and this so admirably that the deception could 
not be detected even in the orchestra. Records of a Stage 
Veteran. 

Richard Jones. 
1778-1851. 

Who is this ? all boots and breeches, 
Cravat and cape, and spurs and switches, 
Grins and grimaces, shrugs and capers, 
With affectation, spleen, and vapours ? 
Oh, Mr. Richard Jones, your humble 
Prithee give o'er to mouth and mumble : 
Stand still, speak plain, and let us hear 
What was intended for the ear. 
In faith, without the timely aid 
Of bills, no part you ever played - 
Hob, Handy, Shuffleton, or Rover, 
Sharper, stroller, lounger, lover, 
Could, amid your madcap pother, 
Ever distinguish from each other. 
'Tis true that Lewis jumps and prates, 
And mumbles and extra vagates ; 
And it equally as true is 
That, Mr. Jones, you are not Lewis. 
If, Jones, to your ears my caustic lays 
May seem too niggard of their praise, 
Perhaps it's true, and shall I own 
They seem not so to you alone ? 
And fear'd I not to turn a brain 
Already too volatile and vain, 



by the favour of Mr. Ireland, inspected the Shakspeare papers, and 
convinced of their authenticity." He afterwards wrote a tragedy, whic 
he called "Vortigern and Rowena," the composition referred to in tl 
text. This was also believed to be Shakspeare's, and was produced 
Drury Lane Theatre. The fraud was detected by Malone. Irelai 
afterwards published a book which he called his " Confessions." ED. 



Mrs. Glover. 333 

I'd say, " It equally as true is 

That, Mr. Jones, you maybe Lewis." 1 C. Croker. 

In 1809 Richard Jones made his debut at Covent Garden, 
in Macklin's comedy of " Love a la Mode," as Squire Groom. 
Lewis attended behind the scenes to witness his protege's first 
attempt. When the cue was given for his entrance, Jones 
became transfixed with fear, and instead of giving the " view 
halloo," was struck dumb. Lewis, perceiving the dilemma of 
the new actor, roared, " Yoicks ! yoicks !" The audience hearing 
those well-known sounds, exclaimed, " A second Lewis !" 
Slapping Jones on the back, Lewis told him to go in and win. 
Jones, lacking courage, dashed on the stage amid the most 
deafening plaudits ; and as he paced about in his jockey-dress 
thus showing off his slim, tall, and well-formed person- 
minutes absolutely elapsed before he could utter a word for the 
applause. His success was most complete, and Jones remained 
in London as the true successor of Lewis as long as the legi- 
timate drama had a home. Recollections of an Actor. 

Mrs. Glover. 
1781-1850. 

On my arrival in London, in June, 1822, I was enlisted f.o 
fill a role in the tragedy of " Hamlet," at the Lyceum Theatre. 
Mrs. Glover assumed the part of the Prince of Denmark, and 
announced this extraordinary attempt as an attraction on her 
benefit-night. This highly-gifted actress was not disappointed, 
for the theatre was filled in every part. Her noble figure, 
handsome and expressive face, rich and powerful voice, all 
contributed to rivet the attention of the elite assembled on this 
occasion ; while continued bursts of applause greeted her 
finished elocution as she delivered the soliloquies so well 
known to her delighted auditors. In the stage-box were 
seated Edmund Kean, Michael Kelly, Munden, and the Hon 
Douglas Kinnaird. At the end of the first act Kean came 



1 A series of these verses was published in Dublin at the commencement, 
I believe, of the present century. They were obviously suggested by the 
"Rosciad," though to what degree they approach that vigorous satire the 
specimen quoted will enable the reader to judge. They were widely read 
at the time of their publication. ED. 



334 Tom Cooke. 

behind the scenes and shook Mrs. Glover, not by one, but by 
both hands, and exclaimed, " Excellent ! excellent !" The 
splendid actress, smiling, cried, " Away, you flatterer ! you come 
in mockery to scorn and scoff at our solemnity 1" Walter 
Donaldson. 

The coincidences of life are many, and often singular. At 
the very time that Mrs. Abington was evincing to us what her 
powers had been by what they still were, Mr. Harris displayed 
in the person of Miss Betterton, from the Bath Theatre, the 
only actress who even in the slightest degree resembled her. 
Then, however, she was considered as a tragedian, which 
naturally she was not, and acted Elwina to the Percy of Miss 
More. She was an early proficient in the studies of her pro- 
fession, and possessed a sound and critical understanding. 
This young lady is now (1833) Mrs. Glover, the ablest actress 
in existence. Boaden. 

This lady has not a tragic voice, and very far from a tragic 
face. She was dressed well, however, and is a commanding 
figure, though monstrously fat. R. C. Leslie, 1813. 

Tom Cooke. 
1781-1848. 

The name of Tom Cooke, so long renowned at Old Drury 
as vocalist, leader, director, and composer, is not yet forgotten. 
This versatile musical genius commenced his career as a boy in 
the orchestra of the Dublin Theatre. Ere he reached manhood 
he was promoted to the rank of leader; 1803 brought him 
before the public as a composer ; this was in consequence of 
the non-arrival of the finale to the first act of Colman's operatic 
farce of " Love Laughs at Locksmiths," just produced at the 
Haymarket. Having no electric telegraphs, steamboats, or 
railways in those times, London and Dublin occupied days in 
regard to communication. As the case was urgent, Tom 
Cooke undertook to furnish a finale; and when the original 
arrived, although the work of a veteran, Michael Kelly, yet 
the composition of the juvenile musician, Cooke, was declared 
the superior, and was ever afterwards retained as part and parcel 
of the opera. In 1812 Tom Cooke announced himself, on his 
benefit night, for the Seraskier, in Storace's opera of " The Siege 
of Belgrade." This attempt took the town by surprise ; fc 



Miss Louisa b 'run ton. 



ooo 



although Braham, two years previous, created a furore in the 
character, Cooke, by his masterly science, electrified the 
audience at the falling of the curtain. Donaldson. 

Tom Cooke is certainly the most facetious of fiddlers, and is 
the only person at present (1833) connected with theatres who 
smacks of the olden days of quips and cranks. Some of his 
conundrums are most amusing absurdities ; for instance. 
" Which is the best shop to get a fiddle at?" asked a pupil. 
" A chemist's," said he, " because, if you buy a drug there, 
they'll always give you a vial in /" Once, while rehearsing a 
song, IJraham said to Cooke, who was leading, "I drop my 
voice there at night" (intimating that he wished the accom- 
paniment more piano). " You drop your voice, do you ?" said 
Cooke. " I should like to be by and pick it up." Records of a 
Stage Veteran. 

It may be asserted, without any chance of contradiction, 
that no living musician has a greater knowledge than T. Cooke 
of the various musical instruments now in use, on nine of which 
he performed solos for his benefit in one night, at Drury Lane 
Theatre, about four years ago, and for all of which he writes 
with much facility. Dictionary of Musicians. 

Miss Louisa Brunton (Countess of Craven). 

1782. 

Miss Louisa Brunton, daughter of a respected gentleman 
for many years proprietor of the Norwich Theatre, was not, we 
believe, originally intended for the stage; although her un- 
common graces of person, exceeding loveliness of countenance, 
with many polite acquirements, eminently qualified her for a 
profession where extraordinary beauty and form of face are 
deemed essential. Miss Brunton made her first appearance on 
the stage at Covent Garden Theatre on the 25th of October, 
1803, in the character of Lady Townly, in the "Provoked 
Husband," which, novice as she was, she sustained with 
superior elegance and judgment. Miss Brunton next appeared 
in Beatrice, in which representation she confirmed the favour- 
able opinion previously formed of her powers. Thence- 
forward, keeping the even tenor of her way, she for four suc- 
ceeding seasons sustained a variety of characters in tragedy as 
well as in comedy, in either of which she proved an acknow- 



336 Miss Biffin. 

ledged ornament. At the above-mentioned period we had the 
pleasure of meeting Miss Brunton in familiar society, at the 
table of our early and esteemed friends, Mr. and Mrs. Litchfield, 
when she was 

" Adorned 

With all that heaven and earth could give 

To make her amiable." 

Miss Brunton was one of the personally gifted few upon whose 
beauty there were no dissentients. It was of that serene, 
unexacting quality which engages even female hearts; her 
youthful vivacity was so femininely gentle, so tempered by 
delicate discretion, and she was withal so outwardly unconscious 
of her surpassing loveliness, that envy itself must have been 
pleased to acknowledge it. The Earl of Craven's devotion, early in 
its beginning and publicly understood, silenced and put to flight 
many incipient aspirants to the heart and hand of this favourite 
of nature. Briefly, for little remains to be told, Miss Brunton, 
at the beginning of December, i8oy,with characteristic modesty, 
made her final curtsey on the stage without the formality of 
leave-taking, and on the 3oth of the same month, as the pub- 
lic journals announced, " Miss Brunton, of Covent Garden 
Theatre, was married to the Earl of Craven, at seven in the 
evening, at Craven House, and the following day the happy 
pair set off to Coombe Abbey." The earl was in his thirty- 
seventh year, the bride in her twenty-fifth. Mrs. C. Mathews. 

Miss Biffin. 
17841850. 

A most accomplished person, who having been born without 
legs or arms, contrived to paint miniatures and cut watch-papers 
with her nose ; the above feats I have seen her with mine own 
eyes perform at Croydon, where she was fairest of the fair. I 
can illustrate this account by an anecdote, equally true, which 
can be vouched for. Miss Biffin before her marriage for 
married she is if alive and even if dead, was taken to Covenl 
Garden Theatre early in the evening before the performance 
began by the gentleman to whom she was afterwards united. 
He having some other engagement, deposited his fair charge 
in the corner of the back seat of one of the upper front boxes, 
whereupon, aided by long drapery, such as children in an 



Jl frs. Bart Icy. 337 

wear, and a large shawl, she sat unmoved as immovable. 
The engagement, however, of her beau proved longer than the 
performance of the theatre. The audience retired, the lights 
were extinguished, and still Miss Biffin remained. The box- 
keeper ventured to suggest that as all the company were out, 
and most of the lights were out too, it was necessary she should 
retire. Unwilling to discover her misfortune, and not at all 
knowing how far she might trust the boxkeeper, she expressed 
great uneasiness that her friend had not arrived, as promised. 
" We can't wait here for your friend, Miss you really must go," 
was the only reply she obtained. At length Mr. Brandon, then 
housekeeper and boxkeeper, hearing the discussion, came to the 
spot, and insinuated the absolute necessity of Miss Biffin's 
departure, hinting something extremely ungallant about a con- 
stable. " Sir," said Miss Biffin, " I would give the world to go, 
but I cannot go without my friend." " You can't have any 
friend here to-night, ma'am," said Mr. Brandon, " for the doors 
are shut." "What shall I do, sir?" said the lady. "If you 
will give me your arm, ma'am, I'll see you safe down to the stage- 
door, where you can send for a coach." " Arm, sir," said the 
lady, " I wish I could ; but I've got no arms." " Dear me !" 
said the box, book, and housekeeper, " how very odd ! How- 
ever, ma'am, if you will get on your legs " " I have not go* 
any legs, sir." Mr. Brandon grew deadly pale, the boxkeepe: 
felt faint. Just at that moment Miss Biffin's friend arrived vi& 
the stage-door. He, perfectly alive to all the little peculiarities 
of his beloved, settled the affair in a moment by bundling her 
up, lifting her from her seat, and carrying her off upon his 
shoulders as a butcher's boy would transport a fillet of veal in his 
tray. Horace Smith. 

Mrs. Bartley. 
1785-1850. 

The female portion of the staff of the theatre 1 had at its 
head an actress second only to Mrs. Siddons, and this was Miss 
Smith, afterwards Mrs. Bartley. Her Lady Macbeth, Constance, 
and Queen KatherinAvrex* powerful embodiments, and I question 
if they have ever since been so finely portrayed. Miss Smith 
was formed by nature for the higher walk of her profession. 



1 Crow Street Theatre, Dublin. 

I 



338 Charles Mackay. 

She had a noble and expressive face, full, strong, and melodious 
voice, capable of any intonation, and an original conception of 
her author. Donaldson. 

Mrs. Bartley was a fine tragic actress, and the only one to 
succeed Mrs. Siddons. She was playing with much success her 
parts, when suddenly came a bright star, Miss O'Neill, and 
immediately took the lead, and Mrs. Bartley was as a first 
tragic actress extinguished. Her husband took her off the 
stage, and they went to America, where they made a good deal 
of money. Poor Mrs. Bartley was for many years paralyzed, 
and suffered great pain ; her mind was very much weakened 
too. It was only the constant kind attention and care she 
received that prolonged her life, and made it comparatively 
happy. I remember Mr. Lane, the celebrated artist and litho 
grapher, and an intimate friend of the Bartleys, telling us one 
day he had just been calling in Woburn Square to inquire after 
Mrs. Bartley, and heard this droll Malaprop from the maid- 
servant who opened the door, " My mistress is a little better 
to-day, sir. Master has used an imprecation (embrocation) that 
made her tingle all over." Recollections of John Adolphus. 

Charles Mackay. 
1786-1857. 

A very rich and peculiar treat has been afforded to the 
frequenters of Drury Lane Theatre by the performances of Mr. 
Mackay, the celebrated representative of the choicest comic 
characters in the Scottish romances. It is asserted that he has 
received the testimony of the great novelist (Scott) himself to 
the spirit and fidelity of these impersonations. This gentleman 
first appeared as Bailie Nicol Jarvie, in the delicious opera of 
"Rob Roy." In this character he succeeded completely in 
making his audience feel that they now for the first time saw 
the idea of the novelist embodied on the scene. Other actors 
are " sophisticate ;" he was " the thing itself." It seemed that 
not a step, a look, or a tone could have been changed without 
taking something from the verisimilitude of the portrait. Not 
only did he realize the professional traits, the national characte- 
ristics, and the individual peculiarities of the weaver and 
magistrate of Glasgow, but he brought out delicately and finely 
that vein of romance which runs through almost all tin 



William Far r en. 339 

creations of the author. Mr. Mackay's acting more resembles 
our idea of the comedians of the last age than anything else we 
have seen ; it is more quiet, more entirely fitted to the part, and 
derives less aid from mere personal peculiarities than that of any 
of our London humorists. Talfourd, 1829. 

Taking him in the single character of Bailie Nicol Jarvie I 
am not sure I ever saw anything in my life possessing so 
much trutli and comic effect at the same time. He is com- 
pletely the personage of the drama, the purse-proud conse- 
quential magistrate, humane and irritable in the same moment, 
and the true Scotsman in every turn of thought and action. 
Sir Walter Scott. 

Although Mr. Mackay found in the Waverley dramas his 
principal stock of characters, there were many other plays in 
which he performed. He delineated with rare success some of 
the more comic personages of the legitimate drama ; and in a 
wide range of parts embracing such characters as Rolamo, in 
" Clari," Old Dornton, in the " Road to Ruin," &c. he ex- 
hibited a power and pathos which many an audience has been 
compelled to acknowledge. Even in his later years, and long 
after he had established his fame as a first-rate comedian, he 
was found making a " first appearance " in a new part Peter 
Pater son. 

William Farren. 
1786-1861. 

For Shylock, though out of his usual line, Mr. Farren has a 
great desire, and frequently plays it for his benefit. He is 
not very portly now, but when he enacted Shylock at 
Birmingham he was certainly one of Pharaoh's lean kine. 
The performance went pretty smoothly until Shylock says 

" The pound of flesh that I demand is mine ; 
'Tis dearly bought, and I will have it. " 

when a fellow in the gallery called out, " Oh ! let old 
Skinny have the pound of flesh ; you can see he wants it 
bad enough." Records of a Stage Veteran. 

Mr. Farren has made a bold attempt to disprove the 
assertions of the critics, as to the narrowness of his sphere, 
by playing several of Mr. Terry's and Mr. Dowton's cha- 
racters. As he is a man of sense and observation, he can 

Z 2 



340 William Farrcn. 

never play anything foolishly, and is far too discreet to make 
a direct failure ; but he has not succeeded in giving pleasure, 
except in those parts which are peculiarly and exclusively his 
own. His acting is not the result of a natural and vigorous 
capacity and aptitude, but of wonderful ingenuity and skill. 
He is a young man who plays old parts, whose great art 
consists in disguising his voice, his shape, and his features ; 
affecting in the full vigour of life the decrepitude and powerless 
passions and vanities of age ; and succeeding in proportion as 
he is unlike himself, and as he reverses all his own hearty and 
pleasurable sympathies. His success in this way is undoubtedly 
curious ; and when, as in Lord Ogleby, he engrafts on this 
assumption of age and decay, singular delicacy of manner, and 
aristocratic generosity of feeling, and mingles an undying 
vivacity and pride with the appearance of physical weakness, 
the portraiture which he gives is no less agreeable than singular. 
But this talent is obviously limited to a small compass ; it is 
not like a potent sympathy which readily seizes on every 
variety of emotion, and happily impregnates every imitation of 
humanity with appropriate warmth and passion. Mr. Farren's 
Admiral Franklyn is only a testy old man, and his Dr. Cant- 
well is totally without the unction absolutely necessary to the 
success of a meek and saintly hypocrite. Perhaps he could 
represent a fiery enthusiast, whose " outward tenement," broken 
and decayed, shows the genuine fury within, because the 
character would bear an essential resemblance to the miser, 
which he played with strange force, like an animated mummy. 
But, for the religionist of this world, whom Dowton so 
completely pictures, he is totally unfit. He would not even 
impose on old Lady Lambert, or obtain admission into 
MawwDrm's pulpit. In Lord Ogleby, however, he makes 
amends for all. Leigh Hunt. 

An ingenious and elegant actor of elderly gentlemen ; but 
dry, hard, ungenial. Talfourd. 

On Monday evening (July 2ist, 1855) Mr. Farren took 
leave of the public at the Haymarket Theatre, the scene of all 
his later triumphs, supported by his friends and many veterans 
of the profession, after having acted once more, and for the 
last time, a short scene from the " Clandestine Marriage." 
Every leading living actor seems to have been anxious to do 
something on the occasion, and by performing fragments room 
was made for the loving help of a great many ; even a corner 



Edm u nd Kcan . 341 

was made for Mr. Albert Smith, who sang one of his songs. 
The unrestrained cordiality with which "Farewell" was said by the 
public to one of the most finished actors by whom the stage 
has been adorned during the present century, could not fail to 
excite emotion even in bystanders, and how much more in the 
person of the artist towards whom all that warm feeling was 
expressed. Mr. Farren was unable to speak his own good-bye ; 
all had to be felt, and there was nothing to be said. 
//. Morley's " Journal of a London Playgoer" 

John Pritt Harley. 
1786-1858. 

His sire was a draper, and he himself is said to have been 
initiated into the mysteries of staymaking, and to have tried 
those of physic and the law, ere he settled down to comic 
acting and delighting the town. Dr. Doran. 

As to Fawcett, 1 Harley is not only like, but the same thing ; 
as though the veteran had been driven back upon his early days 
with all the confidence and vigour of his maturity anticipated. 
Whether at a distant time Harley may ever equal his predecessor 
in characters of advanced life and rustic, or, at any rate, not 
refined feeling, remains a question. His buoyancy is everything 
at present. Boaden, 1831. 

Edmund Kean. 

1787-1833. 

Just returned from seeing Kean in Richard. By Jove, he is a 
soul ! Life, nature, truth, without exaggeration or diminution. 
Kemble's Hamlet is perfect ; but Hamlet is not nature. 
Richard is a man ; and Kean is Richard. Byron. 

You did me the honour to ask what I thought of Kean. I 
saw him but once, and imperfectly, being shut up, like a mouse 
in a telescope, in one of the wretched private boxes, which 
favour more of self-denial, penance, and privation, than any 



1 Boaden speaks of Fawcett as "a great, original, masterly comedian ; 
always natural and extremely powerful." To what degree Harley realized 
lioaden's conjectures we most of us know. ED. 



342 Edtftund Kean. 

views of pride or pleasure Yet he delighted me in 

Richard III. He carries one's views backwards and forwards 
as to the character, instead of confining them, like other actors, 
within the limits of the present hour ; and he gives a breadth 
of colouring to his part that strongly excites the imagination. 
He showed me that Richard possessed a mine of humour and 
pleasantry, with all the grace of high breeding grafted on 
strong and brilliant intellect. He gave probability to the 
drama by throwing this favourable light on the character, 
particularly in the scene with Lady Anne; and he made it more 
consistent with the varied lot of "poor humanity." He 
reminded me constantly of Bonaparte that restless quickness, 
that Catiline inquietude, that fearful somewhat resembling the 
impatience of a lion in his cage. Though I am not a lover of 
the drama (will you despise me for the avowal?) I could 
willingly have heard him repeat his part that same evening. 
Mrs. R. Trench? 1813. 

Mrs. Dimond offers me a place in her box to-night, whence 
will be seen Massinger's horrible Sir Giles Overreach, played 
by Mr. Kean. If he can stretch that hideous character as he 
does others, quite beyond all the authors meant or wished, 
it will shock us too much for endurance, though in these days 
people do require mustard to everything. Mrs. Piozzi? 

From the days of David Garrick, Kean was the only actor 



1 Elsewhere Mrs. Trench says: "I took my boys to see 'Macbeth' 
last night, but found that, though they read Shakspeare, they did not 
/eadily catch the language of the scene. They understood Kean well : his 
tones are so natural ; but the raised voice and declamatory style in which most 
others pronounce tragedy, render it, I see, nearly unintelligible to children. 
I was astonished by Kean's talents in all that follows the murder, highly as 
I before thought of them. I suppose remorse never was more finely e 
pressed, and I quitted the house with more admiration of him, and ev< 
of Shakspeare, than ever I had felt before." 

2 Mrs. Piozzi died in 1821, in her eighty-second year. Whoever 
heard of Dr. Johnson has heard of Mrs. Piozzi. She may be said to hai 
been the last of the immortal circle of wits, poets, and painters, who In 
for ever in Boswell's book. Those Avho knew her at Bath, where si 
died, describe her manners in her extreme old age as highly polished ar 
graceful. " Her fine mental faculties," says the Bath paper that chronicl 
her death, "remained wholly unimpaired. Her memory was uncommor 
retentive on all subjects, enriched by apt quotations, in which she was mo 
happy, and her letters and conversation to the last had the same racy spir 
that made her the animating principle and ornament of the distingui " 
society she moved in at the more early portion of her life. " ED. 



Edmund Kcan. 343 

that never allowed a London manager to place his name in the 
bills for a secondary character. Even Garrick himself, when 
an engaged performer, had to personate inferior parts. 
Donaldson, 

It is impossible to form a higher conception of Richard III. 
than that given by Kean : never was character represented by 
greater distinctness and precision, and perfectly articulated in 
every part. If Kean did not succeed in concentrating all the 
lines of the character, he gave a vigour and relief to the part 
which we have never seen surpassed. He was more refined 
than Cooke ; bolder and more original than Kenible. The 
scene with Lady Anne was an admirable specimen of bold and 
smiling duplicity. Wily adulation was firmly marked by his 
eye, and he appeared like the first tempter in the garden. 
Kean's attitude in leaning against the pillar was one of the 
most graceful and striking positions ever witnessed. It would 
serve a Titian, Raphael, or Salvator Rosa as a model. The 
transition from the fiercest passion to the most familiar tone, 
was a quality which Kean possessed over every other actor 
that ever appeared. Many attempted this style, and all have 
most egregiously failed. Hazlitt. 

He exhibited humanity as it is, in all its aspects, varieties, 
and conflicts of passion. Hence his supreme ascendancy over 
the feelings of his audience the hearts of thousands beating as 
one man's beneath his faithful and marvellous portraitures of 
emotions, affections, and infirmities of a nature common to 
all. Anon. 

Kean, with all his powers, I think, failed in. the part of Lear 
as a whole. T. Campbell. 

Kean, a much greater actor than Cooke, fell below probably 
nis own expectation in Macbeth ; in the natural he was little accus- 
tomed to fail ; it was in the supernatural demands of the character 
that he sunk under the burden ; where mere physical force, and 
very admirable invention too, were yet insufficient to maintain 
him. Upon the pinnacle of that temple the head became un- 
certain and the body weak. Boadcn. 

Kean had flashes of power equal to Garrick ; but he could not 
sustain a character throughout as Garrick did. J. Bannister. 

I never saw finer acting than Kean's Othello^ not even 
excepting any performance of Mrs. Siddons. His finest 
passages were those most deeply pathetic. Leslie's " A ut<h 
biography" 



344 Edmund Kean. 

We were very near the stage, where I could enjoy and 
appreciate Kean's acting. He has the disadvantage of a small 
person, but with an amazing power of expression in his face. 
He is less noble and dignified than Kemble, but I think his 
genius is as great in his way. Every word he utters is full of 
power, and I know not whether he most excels in the terrific 
or in the tender and pathetic. His face, though not handsome, 
is picturesque, and the manner in which he wore his hair was 
peculiarly so. Ibid. 1816. 

During the height of the Kean mania, one of our young 

Westminster Hall orators dining with Kean at Lord 's, told 

this histrionic phenomenon, among other compliments of a 
similar stamp, that he had never seen acting until the pre- 
ceding evening. " Indeed !" said Kean ; " why you must have 
seen others, sir, I should conceive, in Richard III" "I have 
seen," replied the barrister, " both Cooke and Kemble ; but 
they must excuse me, Mr. Kean, if I should turn from them, 
and frankly say to you, with Hamlet, * Here's metal more 
attractive.' " Kean felt highly flattered. The conversation 
then turning on a curious law- suit, Kean, after a pause, asked 
the barrister if he had ever visited the Exeter Theatre. " Very 
rarely indeed," was the reply, "though, by-the-bye, now I 
recollect, during the last assizes, I dropped in towards the 
conclusion of "Richard III." Richmond was in the hands of a very 
promising young fellow ; but such a Richard 1 such a harsh, 
croaking, barn brawler ! I forget his name, but " " I'll tell it 
you," interrupted the Drury Lane hero, rising and tapping the 
great lawyer over the shoulder : " I'll tell it you KEAN." 
F. Reynolds. 

Kean had never yet I believe disappointed a London 
audience but on one occasion. He had gone to dine somewhere 
about ten miles from town with some players. Temptation 
and the bottle were too strong for him ; he outstayed his time, 
got drunk, and lost all recollection of Shakspeare, Shylock, and 
Drury Lane. His friends, frightened at the indiscretion they 
had caused, despatched Kean's servant with his empty chariot, 
and a well-framed story that the horses had been frightened, 
that the carriage had been upset, and the tragedian's shoulder 
dislocated. This story was repeated from the stage by tht 
manager ; and the rising indignation of the audience was 
instantly calmed down into commiseration and regret. The 
following morning Kean was shocked and bewildered at dis 



Edmund Kcan. 345 

covering the truth of his situation. But how must his embar- 
lassmcnt have been increased on learning that several gentlemen 
had already arrived from town to make anxious inquiries after 
Jiim? Luckily his old associates, the actors, had, with great pre- 
sence of mind and practised effrontery, carried on the deception 
of the preceding night. The village apothecary lent himself to it. 
and with a grave countenance confirmed the report ; and Kean 
was obliged to become a party, nolens volcns, to the hoax. His 
chamber was accordingly darkened, his face whitened, and his 
shoulder bandaged. No one discovered the cheat ; and to 
crown it completely, he appeared in an incredibly short time 
on the boards of old Drury again, the public being carefully in- 
formed that his respect and gratitude towards them urged 
him to risk the exertion, and to go through his arduous parts 
with his arm in a sling ! T. C. Grattan* 

Kean was unquestionably a man of genius : neither his 
physical deficiencies, nor his utter want of general education, 
nor the vulgar tricks which he had brought from his original 
walk of harlequin and punchinello, prevented him from reaching 
a splendid excellence of passionate vigour in some four or five 
of the best parts in our tragic drama. Beyond this elevated 
but very narrow range he was at best a secondary player. In 
Shy lock, Richard III., Othello, in Sir Giles Overreach and in 
Za-nga he was great. In Macbeth, Hamlet, Wolsey, Lear, Brutus, 
Coriolanus, King John, &c. &c., he never approached within 
any measurable distance of the learned, philosophical, and 
majestic Kemble ; and where both rivals wanted the support of 
Shakespere, the failure of the younger was still more con- 



1 "On his return from America, he presented, " says Mr. Grattan, "a mix- 
ture of subdued fierceness, unsatisfied triumph, and suppressed debauchery. 
He had in a great measure recovered his place before the public, but he had 
lost all the respectability of private life. He lived in the Humnmms Hotel, 
Covent Garden ; his wife occupied obscure lodgings in Westminster, and 
was, as well as his son, quite at variance with htm. His health had been 
greatly shattered during his American campaign chiefly, I believe, from 
his mental sufferings. He told me he had been m<*d at Montreal or 
Quebec for several days, and related an incident which proved it namely, 
his having mounted a fiery horse, dressed in the full costume of the Huron 
tribe of Indians, of which he had been elected a chief, and after joining 
them in their village or camp, haranguing them, parading them, and no 
doubt amusing them much being carried back by some pursuing friends to 
the place from whence he came, and treated for a considerable time as 
a lunatic." My Acquaintance with the late Edmund Kean, 1833. 



346 Edmund Keau. 

spicuous. In several characters, particularly in lago, he always 
appeared to us inferior to Mr. Young ; in many more, including 
Romeo and Hamlet, to Mr. Charles Kemble ; and it seems to 
be a matter of admitted doubt whether in two even of his best 
performances he was, on the whole, superior to Cooke. In 
comedy he was detestable. 1 Quarterly Review , 1835. 

During the Christmas vacation, Thomas Young was in the 
habit of giving frequent dinners to his friends and acquaintances, 
at which his son Charles was allowed to appear as soon as 
dessert was put upon the table. On one of these occasions, .... 
as Charles was descending the stairs to the dining-room, in his 
smartest clothes, he saw a slatternly woman seated on one of 
the chairs in the hall, with a boy standing by her side, dressed 
in fantastic garb, with the blackest and most penetrating eyee 
he had ever beheld in human head. His first impression was 
that the two were strolling gipsies from Bartholomew Fair who 
had come for medical advice. He was soon undeceived ; for 
he had no sooner taken his place by his father's side, and heard 
the servant whisper their presence in the hall, than, to his 
surprise, the master, instead of manifesting displeasure, smirked 
and smiled, and with an air of self-complacent patronage, 
desired ius butler to "bring in the boy." On his entry he was 
taken by the hand, patted on the head, and requested to favour 
the company with a specimen of his histrionic ability. With a 
self-possession marvellous in one so young he stood forth, 
knitted his brow, hunched up one shoulder-blade, and with 
sardonic grin and husky voice spouted forth Glostcr's opening 
soliloquy in " Richard III." He then recited selections from 
some of our minor poets, both grave and gay, danced a horn- 
pipe, sang songs, both comic and pathetic, and for fully an hour 
displayed such versatility as to elicit vociferous applause from 
his auditors, and substantial evidence of its sincerity by a shower 
of crown pieces and shillings. The door was no sooner closed 






1 In the course of the season of 1814 Kean played sixty-eight nights. 
The total amount of money received at Drury Lane Theatre on these nights 
was 32,642/. I2s. 6d. When he came to the theatre the receipts averaged 
2I2/. per night. During his nights the general average was 5097. 9^. The 
largest receipt on the presentation of Shylock was 53 1/. 2s. ; of Richard 
III., 6557. i3j. ; of Hamlet, 66o/. ; of lago, 5737. j of Othello, 6;3/. The 
number of persons who visited the theatre during these sixty- eight nights 
was 166,742. The result of the calculations is that the theatre cleared by 
his services alone during these nights upwards of 2o } ooo/. 



Edmund I\ca n. 347 

than everybody present desired to know the name of the youthful 
prodigy. .... The host replied that " this was not the first time 
l ie IKK I had him to amuse his friends : that he knew nothing of 
the lad's history or antecedents, but that his name was Edmund 
Kcan." Life of C. M. Young. 

Monday, 28, 1814. I went with Lady Conyngham to the 
play to see Kean for the first time. It was " Richard III." It 
pleased me, but I was not enthusiastic. His expression of the 
passions is natural and strong, but I do not like his declamation ; 
his voice, naturally not agreeable, becomes monotonous. Thurs- 
day, 3 1 st. Went in the Duke of Devonshire's box to see Kean 
in Hamlet. I must confess I am disappointed in his talent. 
To my mind he is without grace and without elevation of mind, 
because he never seems to rise with the poet in those sublime 
passages which abound in " Hamlet," and of what is called 
recitation of verse he understands nothing. Miss Berry's* 
Journal. 

The most celebrated tragedian of our time died at Richmond 
on May 151!!, i833. 2 He was born, we believe, on the lyth of 
March, 1788, and nearly as soon as he could walk he appeared 
as a boy actor on the stage, and went through all the difficulties 
and dangers of a young player's life. At Drury Lane Theatre, 
when Kemble was in the height of his glory, the obscure child, 
the unknown heir-apparent to the tragic throne, was used in 
processions, &c. Subsequently, at the Haymarket, he delivered 
messages and performed in small parts, with no advantage to 
himself, the company, or the audience ; and he was remarkable 
for the silence and shyness with which he took his seat in the 
green-room, his eye alone " discoursing most eloquent music." 
Through various country theatres he passed with various success, 



1 Miss Berry, a quaint old lady, who died in 1852, aged about ninety. 
She was the intimate friend of Horace Walpole, and imbibed from him the 
sharp garrulity and Anglo- Gallican idiom that characterize and perhaps 
deform her Memoirs. ED. 

-His name was Edmund Carey. In "The Early Days of Edmund 
Kean," it is said : " His parentage was continually questioned by himselr, 
and he frequently, to many persons who were not particularly in his confi- 
dence, affirmed his belief to be that Mrs. Carey was not his mother, but 
that he owed his existence to a lady who through life assumed the title of 
his aunt. That lady was, nearly sixty years since, under the protection of 
the Duke of Norfolk, and was introduced by him to Garrick, who gave her 
an introduction to the managers of Drury, where she appeared soon after 
the death of the British Koscius." 



348 



Edmund Kean. 



until he joined the Exeter company. Here he attracted the 
admiration of Dr. Drury, a gentleman of taste and influence ; 
and through his interference, Mr. Arnold, on the part of the 
Committee of Drury Lane Theatre, went to Dorchester, for the 
express purpose of seeing Kean act. The result of the interview 
was an engagement; and in January, 1814, he appeared on the 
boards of Drury. 1 Of all his provincial audiences, we believe 
that the good people of Exeter were most alive to his trans- 
cendent merit, while the inhabitants of Guernsey have dis- 
tinguished themselves by disrelishing his acting, and literally 



1 " Some one or two years after his metropolitan debut he was engaged in 

the circuit of Mr. J C . His success was immense, and he received 

nightly half the receipts of the house. The average exceeded 5o/. per 
night. Kean's share was brought to him each night after the play by Mr. 

J C , to whom, however, nothing could induce him to speak one 

word ; but with a doggedness that appeared premeditated, when the well- 
known knock came to the door of his dressing-room, he always said aloud 
to his servant, ' See what that man wants. 5 Years rolled on, and time, 
which generally strengthens our attachments and weakens our asperities, 

brought Mr. J C and Kean in contact, about 1827, when the once 

flourishing manager, stricken by sorrow and by years, was feeling the pangs 
of poverty his own exertions could' no longer avert. His theatre had 
passed into other hands, and as an actor his services were not re- 
quired. Kean came into a town where Mr. C was sojourning, and 

he applied to the tragedian to play one night for his benefit. Kean con- 
sented ; the night was fixed for the one after Kean's engagement. Some 
nights previous to its occurrence he, with some of the actors of the com- 
pany, met at a tavern in the town. The room was a public one, where 
the comedians and many of the patrons of the theatre occasionally 

assembled. There, on the occasion in question, was Mr. C . The jest 

went round, not unaccompanied with the bowl, of course ; and the ci-devant 
manager, thinking all former ill-feeling buried, rose, made a speech allusive 
to Kean's generosity, and acquainted the company that Kean, having 
known him in his prosperity, had consented to play gratuitously for his 
benefit. This was received with loud acclamations, amid which Kean rose 
(and those who were present are as little likely to forget the expression of 
his countenance at that moment as in any of his dramatic triumphs) and 
said : ' Don't let us misunderstand one another. I am bound to you by no 
ties of former acquaintance. I don't play for you because you were once 
my manager, or a manager. If ever a man deserved his destiny it is you. 
If ever there was a family of tyrants, it is yours. I do not play for you 
from former friendship, but I play for you because you are a fallen man.' 
The effect was electrical ; but the person to whom it was addressed 
pocketed the affront and the receipts of the night in question, which were 
very great. Kean explained his conduct thus I believe I may sny 

exactly in these words : ' I am sorry that to I forgot myself ; but when 

me and mine were starving, that fellow refused to let a subscription for me 
be entertained in the theatre.' " Recollections of Kean. 



Kcan. 349 

driving him from their stage. Guernsey should have had a 
(Jlaremont or a Creswell made on a scale low enough for its 
intellect. Kean's first appearance at Drury Lane on the 26th 
of January, 1814, in Shylock> in the disastrous we were almost 
about to say, the most disastrous days of Drury we shall not 
easily forget ! The house was empty of nearly all but critics, 
and those who came in with oranges or orders ; and the listl< 
ness of the small spiritless audience at the first night of a new 
Shylock, was the " languor which is not repose." There came 
on a small man, with an Italian face and fatal eye, which struck 
all. Attention soon ripened into enthusiasm ; and never, per- 
haps, did Kean play with such startling effect as on this night 
to the surprised few ! His voice was harsh, his style new, his 
action abrupt and angular; but there was the decision, the 
inspiration of genius in the look, the tone, the bearing ; the 
hard unbending Jew was before us in the full vigour of his 
malignity; the injuries upon him and upon his tribe saddened 
in his eyes, but through them you could trace the dark spirit of 
revenge, glaring in fearful, imperishable fury. That night was 
the starting-post on the great course upon which he was destined 
to run his splendid race ! " No one as an actor," says an 
eloquent writer in the Athenceum, " ever had the ball so com- 
pletely at his foot as Kean had ; nay, the ball at his foot 
waited not for the impelling touch like the fairy clue which 
ran before the steps of Fortunatus, leading him to happiness 
and fame it speeded before him ; but the inveterate whims of 
genius lured him into every bye-path of passion and pleasure, 
and hurried him on 

' from flower to flower, 
A wearied chase a wasted hour !' 

Frank in his nature, impetuous in his soul, he knew no calm- 
ness of object or enjoyment; 'aut Caesar aut nullus' was his 
motto he must either fly or burrow! and he never disguised 
his vices or his virtues. With the genius to have been more 
than a Garrick in his art, he had the follies and passions at 
times to reduce him almost beneath a Cooke in his habits. He 
could, at Drury Lane, electrify a Byron, and chill the blood at 
his heart with the fearful energies of his wondrous genius ; and, 
quitting the peers, he could, on the same evening, delight the 
spirits of the lower house with his brilliant, dashing gaieties 
and acted songs. Those who have seen his third '\ct o/ 



3 5 o " Edmund Kean. 

1 Othello ' must ever tremble in their memories, and those who 
have heard him recite ' Black-eyed Susan ' to the pathos of his 
own music, sadden still; such passion and such pathos are not 
easily borne at the moment or unremembered afterwards." 
New Monthly Magazine, 1833. 

One part he plays in all respects as finely as on his first 
appearance Shy lock; and, indeed, it struck me when I saw it 
the other night (1831) as more harmonious and entire than it 
was years ago, and sufficiently fervid and intense in all its 
passages. I used to think the trial scene in the fourth act 
languid compared with the rest of the performance, but now il 
seems quite worthy of all that precedes it ; and the close 
where generally no effect has been produced is marked by a 
mild and peculiar beauty. His look is that of a man who 
asserts his claim to suffer as one of a race of sufferers ; and 
when he turns his sorrowful face in silence to the frothy cox- 
comb who rails at him, we feel the immeasurable superiority 
of one who finds in the very excess of his misery his kindred 
with a tribe oppressed for ages to the insect boaster of the day. 
His Sir Giles is not so terrible as it was when it sent Lord 
Byron into hysterics and made Mrs. Glover tremble ; but it is 
sustained by a quiet consciousness of power and superiority to 
principle or fear, and the deficiency of physical force in the last 
scene is supplied with consummate skill. His Othello, which, 
as once played, was equal to anything perhaps ever presented 
on the stage, had been altered greatly for the worse before his 
physical power abated : the once noble tide of passion which 
" knew no retiring off, but kept right on," was chequered and 
broken, and tearful, sometimes hysterical affection, was sub- 
stituted for the solemn repose of despair. It is still very fine 
in parts, but it does not hold its former relative position even 
to his other performances ; and those who saw it in his early 
days, and who can never assuredly forget it, would do well to 
abstain from seeing it now. But of all Mr. Kean's parts, that 
which any one who desires to retain an unclouded admiration 
of his powers should most sedulously avoid, is Richard. For 
myself, I never thought this, though from circumstances one of 
his most popular performances, altogether worthy of him, 
though it had many brilliant hits, and was nobly redeemed by 
the fighting at the end ; and now the last act, where all should 
be bustle, fire, and fury, is painfully and pitiably feeble. He 
whispers when he should shout, creeps and totters about the 



Edmund Kean. 3 5 1 

stage when he should spring or rush forward, and is even 
palpably assisted by his adversary to fight or fall. Yet his last 
look at Richmond as he stands is fearful ; l as if the agony of 
death gave him power to menace his conqueror with the ghostly 
terrors of the world into which the murderous tyrant is entering. 
Talfoitrd. 

Prom the January of 1814 to that of 1833 Edmund Kean 
was the star of the British stage, and what may be reckoned as 
most noticeable in this nation of shopkeepers, that his in- 
dividual talents drew more, and for the exertion of those 
talents he himself received more than any three performers that 
co-existed with him. His books show a sum nearly averaging 
io,ooo/. a year for eighteen years. How with his active life so vast 
a sum could have been expended for he never gambled is 
one of the things that those who knew him best can never cease 
to wonder at. He had some silly habits of display such as 
travelling on all occasions in a carriage-and-four, but his house- 
hold expenses were always on a moderate scale. Yet a few 
days before his death he was in danger of an arrest for a sum 
not exceeding ioo/. Recollections of Kean. 

Kean was, in acting, what Wilson was on canvas : he depended 
on striking, and cared not how coarsely his colours were laid 
on if the effect was produced. Records of a Veteran. 

Kean was an extraordinary actor and an extraordinary man. 
Without any advantages of education, and perhaps with all the 
disadvantages that could beset a birth and youth of poverty 
and desertion for he seems never to have known who his 
father was, and even his mother's identity was doubtful he yet 



1 Kean was notoriously a passionate-tempered man. One night he went 
to hear Fuller, a mimic, give representations of the leading actors, includ- 
ing Kean. The tragedian frequently rapped his applause during the per- 
formance ; but when Fuller came to the imitation of Kean, he paused. 
Kean looked approval, and Fuller commenced. In a few moments Kean 
threw a glass of wine in his face ; there was a fight, after which Kean, by 
way of apology, said, " That if he thought he was such a wretch as Fuller 
represented him he would hang himself." He acted at Birmingham once, 
where his benefit was a total failure. The play was Massinger's "New 
Way to Pay Old Debts." Allusion is made to the marriage of a lady : 
Kean suddenly exclaimed, "Take her, sir, and the Birmingham audience 
into the bargain." The editor of a Cheltenham journal severely criticized 
him. Kean played Silvester Daggenvood for his benefit, and performed th; 
part with a horsewhip in his hand, saying, aloud, " I keep this little instru- 
ment to punish cheating aldermen and lying editors." ED. 



352 Edmund Kean. 

struggled through difficulties that might have destroyed a mind 
of less energy, until he struggled with triumphant success. 
With no -recommendation of person a low and meagre figure, 
a Jewish physiognomy, and a stifled and husky voice he 
seemed to be excluded by nature from all chance of personating 
tragedy; the grim expression of his countenance and the sullen 
sound of his voice prohibited comedy; yet at his first step on the 
London stage he was acknowledged to be the founder of a new 
school, to give new meaning to some of the highest characters 
of Shakspeare ; to refresh the feelings and change the worship 
of those who had for a quarter of a century bowed down to the 
supremacy of the Kembles ; and finally to pour a new and most 
welcome flood of wealth into the long-exhausted treasury of the 
theatre. Thiswonderwas worked by the true operator of all earthly 
wonders energy. The Kemble school was magnificent and 
majestic. Kean was his school alone, for it had neither founder 
nor follower but himself, and its spirit was vividness, poignancy, 
and intensity. Blackivood's Magazine, 1840. 

Kean possesses particular physical qualifications : an eye like 
an orb of light, a voice exquisitely touching and melodious in 
its tenderness, and in the harsh dissonance of vehement passion 
terribly true : to these he adds the intellectual ones of vigour, 
intensity, amazing power of concentrating effect these give 
him an entire mastery over his audience in all striking, sudden, 
impassioned passages, in fulfilling which he has contented him- 
self, leaving unheeded what he could not compass the unity of 
conception, the refinement of detail, and evenness of execution. 
Fanny Kemble?' 

1 In a note to this passage Miss Kemble (Mrs. Butler) says : "Kean is 
gone, and with him are gone Othello, Shylock, and Richard. I have lived 
among those whose theatrical creed would not permit them to acknowledge 
him as a great actor ; but they must be bigoted indeed who would deny 
that he was a great genius a man of most original and striking 
powers, careless of art, perhaps because he did not need it, but possessing 
those rare gifts of nature without which art is as a dead body. Who that 
ever heard will ever forget the beauty, the unutterable tenderness of his 
reply to Desdemona's entreaties for Cassio 'Let him come when he will ; 
I can deny thee nothing ;' the deep despondency of his 'Oh, now farewell;' 
the miserable anguish of his ' Oh, Desdemona, away, away ! ' Who that 
ever saw will ever forget the fascination of his dying eyes in Richard, when 
deprived of his sword ; the wondrous power of his look seemed yet to 
avert the uplifted arm of Richmond. If he was irregular and unartisi- 
like in his performance, so is Niagara compared with the waterworks of 
Versailles." 



353 

Daniel Terry. 1 
1789-1829. 

lie was intended by his parents for an architect, for which 
purpose they placed him under Mr. S. Wyatt, with whom he 
remained five years ; but having very early imbibed a strong 
liking for the profession of an actor, he abandoned that pursuit. 
His first dramatic essay is stated to have been Heartwell, in 
the farce of " The Prize," a part affording but little scope for 
the display of histrionic talent. In 1803, he was staying at 
Sheffield, and embraced that opportunity of playing Tressel, 
in "Richard III.," Cromwell, in "Henry VIII.," and a 
few other minor parts, experimentally; but, whether dis- 



1 Terry was once the somewhat unwilling participant of one ot Theodore 
Hook's most audacious frolics. Hook, when hungry, and when without 
the money or the opportunity to procure a dinner, very often imitated the 
example of Goldsmith's loose friend, and forced himself upon strangers. 
Terry and Hook walking one day up a street near Soho Square, were 
suddenly brought to by a strong smell of dinner. Hook solicitously eyed 
the house ; he was hungry, and he looked at Terry. Terry expressed his 
envy of those who were to enjoy the venison, whereupon Hook offered to 
make Terry a bet that he would dine at that house, " and," added he, " if 
you will call for me here at ten o'clock, I will give you a faithful account of 
mine host's cheer." Saying this he briskly rapped at the door. Terry, 
with a shrug of wonder, walked away. Hook on being admitted was at 
once conducted to the drawing-room, which was half full of people, and 
had set a good portion of the company grinning before the host noticed 
him. So very comical indeed was Hook that in a short time he had 
circled himself with a number of appreciative listeners, through which the 
host found it difficult to make his way. Explanations ensued, Hook pro- 
tested he had mistaken the house offered his humble apologies begged 
permission to withdraw. The host would not hear of this, and after much 
entreaty, in which most of the guests joined, Hook was prevailed upon to 
remain. At the dinner-table his jokes kept the company in shouts of 
laughter, the host grew too faint with merriment to dispense the hospitali- 
ties of the table, the ladies ogled the good-looking stranger, and the guests 
spoke together in their eagerness to drink wine with him. In the draw- 
ing-room Hook seated himself at the piano, and burst into one of his ex- 
tempore songs. Presently ten o'clock struck, and in walked Terry. 
Hardly had he entered when Hook, looking towards the host, sing, as. a 
/urewell and explanatory verse : 

" I am very much pleased with your fare, 
Your cellar's as prime as your cook ; 
My friend's Mr. Terry, the player, 
And I'm Mr. Theodore Hook." ED> 
A A 



354 Daniel Terry. 

appointed in his expectations of eminent success, or from some 
other cause, he again returned to his original pursuit, which he 
finally quitted in 1805, and entered himself as a volunteer in 
the corps dramatique of Mr. Stephen Kemble, then performing 
in some of the principal towns in the north of England. With 
this company he remained, until its dissolution in August 1806, 
and gained in it considerable experience as an actor, by a 
year and a half's very varied and laborious practice. From 
hence Mr. Terry went to Liverpool, where he made slow but 
sure steps in public favour, and continued there until November, 
1809, when he was engaged by Mr. Henry Siddons to lead the 
business at Edinburgh, on the secession of Mr. Meggott, 
Whilst there he made the acquaintance of Mr. Ballantyne, the 
celebrated publisher, and was by him introduced to Sir Walter 
Scott, who ever afterwards remained with him on the most 
intimate and friendly footing. In the summer of 1812, he was 
induced by the offer of an engagement at the Haymarket 
Theatre to take leave of his friends and the stage at Edinburgh, 
to court, what is ever the ultimatum of an actor's ambition, the 
favourable testimony of a London audience. He consequently 
made his first appearance in London on the Haymarket boards, 
on the 2oth May, 1812, in the character of Lord Ogleby, in the 
" Clandestine Marriage," and was favourably received. He 
continued during this and the next season to play in succes- 
sion a variety of old and new parts, with undiminished success. 
At the expiration of the second season he joined the Covent 
Garden company, where he continued until some disagreement 
about remuneration induced him to go over to the rival 
establishment, then under the management of Elliston. Here 
he remained until 1825, when, in conjunction with Mr. Yates, 
he purchased the Adelphi Theatre ; and this is one of the 
occasions alluded to, that Sir Walter proved himself "a friend 
indeed," becoming, it is said, his security for the payment of 
his part of the purchase-money. This speculation was looked 
upon as a good one, and this theatre continued to thrive for 
two seasons under their joint management. About this time 
unpleasant rumours of pecuniary embarrassments on the part 
of Mr. Terry (totally unconnected with Mr. Yates or the 
theatre, and, indeed, incurred previous to their partnership), 
began to attract so much public notice, as to render a dissolu- 
tion of their partnership necessary. This was accomplished, 
and Mr. Terry compounded in a handsome dividend with his 



I 



Daniel Terry. 355 

creditors. It is with great reluctance that this subject is at all 
alluded to, but the circumstances are so recent, and were so 
much the topic of public conversation at the time, that they 
could hardly escape being adverted to, more especially as they 
are thought to have occasioned, or at least hastened, that event 
which it has been our melancholy duty to record. Mr. Terry's 
shattered nerves sank under the many painful trials to which 
his unfortunate circumstances subjected him ; he was unable to 
rally and combat with adversity. After the settlement of his 
affairs, he was re-engaged at Drury Lane Theatre, and appeared 
there in the characters of Sir Peter Teazle and Peter Simpson, on 
the opening night of the last season. On this occasion his acting 
evinced a considerable falling off of his accustomed powers ; 
his limbs seemed palsied and his memory imperfect. He 
relinquished his engagement from ill-health, and after lingering 
some time, expired. As an actor, Mr. Terry, though by no 
means versatile, was in no character which he ever undertook 
otherwise than respectable. In Peter Simpson, Admiral Frank- 
lanJ, Mr. Litigant, the Green Man, and many other parts, he 
may be almost said to have been unique ; and though he may 
have left some better actors, in particular parts, behind him, 
there are none who will give more general satisfaction. Whilst 
in Edinburgh he was married to Miss Nasmyth, a daughter 
or sister of the celebrated portrait-painter of that name. By 
this lady he has left some children, who, it is said, have recently 
come into some property. New Monthly Magazine, 1829. 

He had received a good education, and been regularly 
trained as an architect, but abandoned that profession at an 
early period of life for the stage, and was now (1810) beginning 
to attract attention as a valuable and efficient actor. Scott had 
many opportunities of appreciating his many excellent and 
agreeable qualities. He had the manners and feelings of a 
gentleman. Like John Kemble he was deeply skilled in the 
old literature of the drama, and he rivalled Scott's own 

enthusiasm for the antiquities of vertu His small lively 

features had acquired, before I knew him, a truly ludicrous cast 
of Scott's graver expression ; he had taught his tiny eyebrow 
the very trick of the poet's meditative frown ; and to crown 
all, he so affected his tone and accent that, though a native of 
Bath, a stranger could hardly have doubted he must be a 
Scotchman, Lockhart, 






AA3 



356 

Miss Fanny Kelly. 
1790. 

In the roundness of her limbs, the ease and grace of her 
motions, and the entire absence of anything sharp or angular 
in her form, she resembles Miss O'Neill, like whom she is 
formed to succeed best in the representation of characters 
where passion and suffering have taken possession of the soul ; 
where the will is passive ; and a fair form is agitated by 
emotions which display " the irresistible might of weakness." 
Her voice has more compass than Miss O'Neill's ; its lower 
tones are almost as ripe and mellow, and her upper notes, 
which she sends forth in the playful passages, have an angelical 
clearness and sweetness, which remind us of the singing of 
Miss Stephens. Her action, though it has never the triumphant 
character which her predecessor sometimes assumed, is free, 
unembarrassed, and natural. But these excellencies are trivial 
compared to that fine conception of the fervour and the 
delicacy of the part which she manifests, and which enables 
her to identify herself, not only with its more prominent 
features, but its smallest varieties its " lightest words." There 
is nothing sentimental or reflective in her acting ; her mind 
never seems to have leisure for reverting to itself ; her heart is 
evidently too busy to allow of opportunity for thought. She 
remembers that the emotions of a life are to be crowded into a 
few short hours that the first dawning of love in an innocent 
bosom, its full maturity and strength, its power of anticipating 
time, of developing the loftiest energies in one who was but 
lately a child, of defying the pale appearances of death, and, 
finally, embracing death with gladness and all the cor- 
respondent excitement of the intellect and the fancy, which 
suddenly bloom forth in the warmth of the affections form 
part of that wonderful creation which it is her aim to embody. 
Hazlitt, 1821. 

Went to see Miss Kelly in Juliet. Very bad ; but (as it 
seems) good enough for the public, who are delighted with 
her. T. Moore. 

Frances Maria Kelly, an actress and singer of high repute, 
was born at Brighton on the i5th of December, 1790. Her 
father was an officer in the army, and brother to Michael 



John Vandenho/. 357 

Kelly, under whom she studied music and singing. She made 
her first appearance on the boards of a theatre at a very early 
age, as a member of the chorus at Drury Lane. Her debut 
as an actress was at Glasgow, in 1807. In 1808 she was a 
member of Mr. Colman's company, at the Haymarket Sub- 
sequently at the English Opera House, under Mr. Arnold's 
management. She earned many laurels as a singer, succeeding 
to several of the characters which had been filled by the 
eminent vocalist, Madame Storace. From the English Opera 
House she went to Drury Lane. Whilst performing at that 
theatre, she was fired at by a lunatic in the pit, when a scene 
of extraordinary excitement ensued. The man was sub- 
sequently tried for the murderous attempt, but acquitted on 
the ground of insanity. A similar attempt upon her life was 
aftenvards made at Dublin, fortunately with no greater success. 
Miss Kelly was an actress of great versatility and talent. She 
was successful in the comedy parts filled by Mrs. Jordan, and 
still more in domestic melodrama. She built the small theatre 
in Dean Street, Soho, but derived little emolument from her 
enterprise. E. Walford. 

John Vandenhoff. 
1790-1861. 

His conduct is not disrespectful to the audience, nor dis- 
reputable to himself ; he excites attention, but he does not exact 
it ; though his judgment is sound, he submits it with deference ; 
he never appears solicitous to investigate a sentence, but goes 
at once to the sentiment it enforces. His business is not to 
methodize words, but to express passions ; he is never per- 
tinacious, pedantic, or critical ; he neither whines nor declaims ; 
he acts. What he utters seems to be without study ; it seems 
to be extemporaneous words arising from the situation con- 
ceived at the time upon the spot. Thus his acting can be no 
other than nature, and thus he excites no cavil upon the 
meaning of epithets, no creation of opinions, no dereliction of 
understanding. His power is over the heart. He never 
inflates tragedy into bombast, nor degrades comedy into 
buffoonery. A. JBarnes. 

The daring effort of Vandenhoff one of the most adven- 
turous within the range of tragedy if not attended with 



358 John Vandenhoff. 

brilliant success, sufficiently acquitted him of the charge of 
presumption. His general conception of the character 
(Richard III.) was just; and though few of the minuter traits 
were original, they were often marked by much nicety of touch, 
and brought out with felicitous skill. The pervading life and 
fire of the part the vein of jocularity and triumphant con- 
sciousness of power, were indeed wanting ; and without these, 
no performance of Richard can, as a whole, take any elevated 
or permanent station in our memories. Yet there was an ease 
in the conversational passages and occasional bursts of energy 
in the passionate, which redeemed the actor from anything ap- 
proaching to disgrace. The manner in which he dashed from 
his couch in the tent-scene, striking about his sword in half- 
awakened agony and terror, was really picturesque and fearful, 
Literary Gazette. 

This gentleman's theatrical history has been a singular one ; 
I believe he, like John Kemble, was originally intended for the 
Catholic Church. I remember seeing him (Vandenhoff) for the 
first time, in the company of Lee, the Taunton manager, at 
that town. He was then, I suppose, just of age; acted Achmet 
and Norval, and, I think, lago and Othello. He then impressed 
me with the notion of his possessing a mature judgment, but 
lacking energy. He afterwards went to Bath, where he was 
not very successful, and from thence to Liverpool, where, in a 
short time, he became the idol of all classes; came to 
London, and was but coldly received ; returned to Lancashire, 
and regained his provincial celebrity, and ultimately came 
again to town as a leading tragedian. It is fatal to an actor's 
greatness that he should have been a favourite for any number 
of years in any one province. All our metropolitan actors who 
attained great fame were rather birds of passage in their early 
days : take for instances, Garrick, Kemble, Cooke, Kean, Hen- 
derson, Mathews, Munden, Dowton, &c. The idols of 
particular provincial towns have attained a respectable station 
in London, seldom more : for instance, Miss Jarman, Miss 
Huddart, Mr. Balls, Mr. Egerton, c. There are some ex- 
ceptions to this rule, but they are rare. Records of a 
Veteran. 




359 

James Wallack. 
1791-1864. 

Mr. Wallack has evidently formed himself on the model of 
Kemblc, and has succeeded in copying much of his dignity of 
movement and majesty of action. Had we never seen that 
noblest Roman of all, we should have been exceedingly struck 
by Wallack's gestures and attitudes. He fails, however, to 
exhibit any of those intense recurrences to nature with which 
Kemble was wont to surprise the heart in the midst of 
the most rigid of his personations of character. He has, 
indeed, little of fervid enthusiasm or touching pathos. Tal- 
fourJ. 

Wallack was toact in the "Rent Day." I cried most bitterly 

during the whole piece ; for as in the very first scene Wallack 
asks his wife if she will go with him to America, and she replies, 
" What ! leave the farm ?" I set off from thence and ceased no 
more. Wallack played admirably; I had never seen him before, 
and was greatly delighted with his acting. I thought him 
handsome of a rustic kind, the very thing for the part he played 
a fine English yeoman. Fanny Kemble. 

Miss O'Neill (Lady Becher). 
1791. 

Miss O'Neill is said to be more natural than Mrs. Siddons 
was, but to gain no more by it than waxwork does by being a 
closer representation of nature than the Apollo Belvedere. 
Very few discriminate sufficiently in the arts between the merit 
of an exact representation and an ennobled one ; and people are 
not fair enough in general to allow that something must be 
sacrificed of fidelity in order to reach that elevated imitation 
which alone gives strong and repeated pleasure. Mrs. R. 
Trench, 1814. 

I wanted to see Miss O'Neill. She is a charming creature 
without doubt, and charms, as it should seem, without intending 
it, calling in no aid from dress or air, or studied elegance, such 
as in old days one expected to find in a public professor or 
dramatic recitation ; but like Dryden's Cleopatra 



360 Miss O'Neill. 

" Slic casts a look so languishing!? sweet, 
As if, secure of all beholders' hearts, 
Neglecting, she can take them." 

Comparing such an actress with Mrs. Siddons is like holding 
up a pearl of nice purity, and asking you if it is not superior to 
a brilliant of the first weight and water. Mrs. Piozzi* 

Miss O'Neill made her debut at the Theatre Royal, Crow 
Street, in 1811, in "The Soldier's Daughter" as the Widow 
Cheerly. This young actress, for she was only nineteen years of 
age, succeeded two staid actresses of great ability; and no 
matter whether as Volumnia, Constance, Juliet, or Lady Teazle, 
she proved that Ireland had not lost her prestige since the days 
of Woffington. Miss O'Neill left Dublin in 1815, and made 
her first appearance at Covent Garden in Juliet, and never in 
the metropolis was such an impression made by any actress. 
W. Donaldson. 

Miss O'Neill, I never saw, having made and kept a deter- 
mination to see nothing which should disturb or divide my 
recollection of Siddons. Byron. 

On the first night of her appearance at Covent Garden, she 
established a fame by far exceeding that of any actress before her, 
although possessing the advantages of high provincial celebrity, 
years of experience, and family interest. Miss O'Neill is truly 
original, and previous to her imr'ee on the London boards, 
never witnessed any of the great people. Her figure is of the 
finest model, her features beautiful, yet full of expression, dis- 
playing at once purity of mind and loveliness of countenance. 
Her demeanour is graceful and modest, her voice melody itself 
in all its tones, and with the exception of the greatest actress of 
her day, the celebrated and original Lady Randolph Mrs. 
Crawford Miss O'Neill is the only actress with that genuine 
feeling that is capable of melting her audience to tears. In 
her hand the handkerchief is not hoisted as the only signal of 
distress. Her pauses are always judicious and impressive ; her 
attitudes appropriate and effective, either in regard to ease or 
dignity. She indulges in no sudden starts, no straining after 



1 " Our ladies are all in hysterics, our gentlemen's hands quite blistered 
with clapping, and her stage companions worn to a thread with standing 
up like chains in a children's country dance, while she alone commands 
the attention of such audiences as Bath never witnessed. The boxkeepers 
said last night that the numbers Kean drew after him were nothing to it." 
fiozzi, 1818. 



MissdNcilL 361 

effect, no wringing of hands, nor screaming at the top of her 
voice; no casting her eyes around the boxes searching for 
applause, or addressing her discourse to the lustre or the gods 
in the upper region; no whining or pining, moaning or groaning, 
roaring or bellowing. Anon. 1 

I have seen Miss O'Neill twice, and as times go, that is worth 
something. You have no doubt heard so much about her that 
anything I can say will come " tardy off," yet I'll tell you what 
I think of her. She is an actress of strong and well-directed 
sense and powerful feeling ; her voice is good, particularly in 
its undertones, and without effort, or affectation, or anything 
like the common stage style of speaking; it is modulated 
entirely by the thought or feeling she has to express. The 
same may be said of her countenance, and nearly as much of 
her action. This, though always correct and graceful to a 
certain degree, is sometimes excessive ; as, for instance, in her 
soliloquy with the phial as Juliet. She is not a mere maker of 
detached points, a strong marker of individual passages ; she 
does not point a word into something that sounds like an 
epigram, and which, by dazzling you for a moment, leaves you 
in doubt whether it be right or wrong ; but her excellence con- 
sists in exhibiting a regular, unbroken, and consistent character, 
from which she never departs for the purpose of bringing down 
a huzza. She cannot be compared with Mrs. Siddons at pre- 
sent, but she is much nearer to her in excellence than any of 
the others are to Miss O'Neill. J. Poole' 1814. 

I saw her in the north of Ireland in Cowslip, and even in 
that was much struck with her. I recommended her to Jones 
in Dublin, and ultimately to Henry Harris. I think very highly 
of her comedy. The idea of her copying from Kean is de- 
licious ; that is a genuine bit of Keanism. Charles Mathews* 



1 Quoted in Donaldson's " Recollections of an Actor." 

* The author of " Paul Pry." ED. 

' Miss O'Neill's father was the manager of a small strolling company 
in Ireland. lie was an eccentric of the first water. If any member of his 
company disappointed him, O'Neill had one speech "Confusion burst his 
skull, a blackguard ! What will I do ? Here, give me a greatcoat, and I'll 
double his part with my own." The greatcoat was the universal panacea, 
whatever the general costume of the play might be. If the Ghost in 
" Hamlet" complained to Mr. O'Neill of the lack of armour in the ward- 
robe, the manager would shrug up his shoulders, and after a pause exclaim, 
" Oh, bother ! sure if ye'll put on a greatcoat ye'll do very well," Matters 
of much greater moment he met with the .same indifference. Once pro- 



362 Miss O'Neill. 

Miss O'Neill owes everything to extreme sensibility. She 
gives herself up entirely to the impression of circumstances ; 
is borne along the tide of passion and absorbed in her suffer- 
ings ; she realizes all that is suggested by the progress of the 
story, and answers the utmost expectation of the beholder. 
She does not lift the imagination out of itself. Every nerve is 
strained, her frame is convulsed, her breath suspended, her 
forehead knit together, fate encloses her round and seizes on his 
struggling victim. Nothing can be more natural and affecting 
than her whole conception of those parts in which she has 
appeared. Sodden? 

This young lady, in addition to a very pleasing person and a 
good voice, possessed, no doubt, a considerable portion of 
feeling, but which, in my opinion, was of too boisterous and 
vehement a nature. In this judgment, however, I was again 
in the minority, for by the verdict of the million Miss O'Neill 
was pronounced a younger and a better Mrs. Siddons. F. 
Reynolds. 

Of John Kemble as a man, Talma always spoke in terms of 
affection, of unqualified respect for and admiration of him as 
an actor. He entertained a high opinion too of points in 
Kean's acting. But his praises of Miss O'Neill were boundless. 
Certainly the French stage could produce nothing at all com- 
parable with her for sensibility, tenderness, and pathos; it 
possessed nothing so exquisitely feminine. The phrase currently 
attributed to him respecting that accomplished actress, that 



ceeding by a barge along a small river, the captain and O'Neill quarrelled, 
and in the scuffle O'Neill was knocked overboard. He swam to shore, 
and called out, " Confusion burst your soul ! I suppose you thought I 
couldn't swim." A knot of novices once joined Mr. O'Neill, and having 
played some time without receiving their pay, they resolved to take pro- 
ceedings against him. He met the charge with a counter-claim against 
them for a considerable sum due to him by them for spoiling all the plays 
and farces they appeared in. To avoid the expose they abandoned the 
claim. 

1 Mrs. Grant of Laggan (as she is styled by her son) speaks of Miss 
O'Neill in her 207th letter: "Your gifted countrywoman, Miss O'Neill, 
has been delighting us all by her powers. I saw her play Mrs. Haller, 

which she did admirably. The house was much crowded I never 

saw such an all-alive creature, or one whose feelings are so youthfully keen. 
Miss O'Neill lodges near us, and having known a little of Maiy, she has 
called here with her brother and sister. She is admirable on the stage, and 
most respectable at all times. The intelligent composure and elegant sim- 
plicity of her manners please me exceedingly." 1818. 






William Henry West Betty. 363 

"she had tears in her voice," he might have applied to her, but 
it was not his own : it had been used as the affected com- 
pliment to Mademoiselle Duchesnois for years before. 1 Recol- 
lections of Talma. 

Miss O'Neill is in society what she is on the stage gentle, 
pleasing, and interesting. Miss Berry's "Journal" 

William Henry West Betty. 
1792. 

The " Betty-Boy" was undoubtedly a child of precocious and 
marvellous power to imbibe dramatic instruction, and to 
repeat it faithfully. He was withal handsome in face, and 
graceful in figure, and altogether an engaging and surprising 
youth. Mrs. C. Mathews? 

Sir, my opinion of that young gentleman's talents will never 
transpire during my life. I have written my convictions down : 
they have been attested by competent witnesses, and sealed 
and deposited in the iron safe at my banker's, to be drawn 
forth and opened, with other important documents, at my 
death. The world will then know what Mr. Elliston thought 
of Master Betty. Elliston? 

While young Betty was in all his glory, 1 went with Fox and 
Mrs. Fox, after dining with them in Arlington Street, to see 
him act Hamlet; and, during the play-scene, Fox, to my 
infinite surprise, said, "This is finer than Garrick." Samuel 
Rogers. 

Northcote then spoke of the boy, as he always called him. 
He asked if I had ever seen him act ; and I said, yes, 
and was one of his admirers. He answered, " Oh, yes, it 
was such a beautiful effusion of natural sensibility ; and then 
that graceful play of the limbs in youth gave such an ad- 
vantage over every one about him." Humphreys, the artist, 



1 It was, according to Thackeray, applied to Rubini. See his " English 
Humorists. " ED. 

2 Miss Mudie was another infant phenomenon of that period. John 
Kemble was once asked whether she was really the child she was said to 
be. In his solemn tone of jesting he answered, " Child 7 Why, sir, when 
I was a very young actor in the York company, that little creature kept an 
inn at Tadcaster, and had a large family of children." 

3 This was Elliston's invariable mysterious reply when questioned as to 
his opinion of Betty.- ED. 



364 William Henry West Betty. 

said, " He had never seen the little Apollo off the pedestal 
before." Hazlitfs " Conversations with Northcote." 

It would be impossible to describe the enthusiasm which 
he excited it seemed an epidemic mania ; at the doors of the 
theatre where he was to perform for the evening, the people 
crowded as early as one o'clock ; and when the hour of 
admittance came the rush was so dreadful, that numbers were 
nightly injured by the pres:ire. One hundred pounds a night 
was now given to Young Betty ; and he soon quitted the stage 
with a large fortune, accumulated at a period in life when 
other boys are only on the point of entering a public school. 
Percy Anecdotes. 

The popularity of that baby-faced boy, who possessed not 
even the elements of a good actor, was an hallucination in the 
public mind, and a disgrace to our theatrical history. It 
enabled managers to give him sums for his childish ranting 
that were never accorded to the acting of a Garrick or a 
Siddons. His bust was stuck up in marble by the best 
sculptors ; he was painted by Opie and Northcote ; and the 
verses that were poured out upon him were in a style of 
idolatrous adulation. Actors and actresses of merit were 
obliged to appear on the stage with this minion, and even to 
affect the general taste for him, in order to avoid giving 
offence. Thomas Campbell. 

I hate d\ prodigies partly, I fancy, because I have no faith 
in them. Under this prejudice I saw his first performance, 
and was so disgusted by a monotony, a preaching-like tone, 
that I gave up my place at the end of the third act, and walked 
behind the scenes, where myriads of critics were gathered, to 
listen to their remarks. Here some vociferated that Garrick 
was returned to the stage ; whilst others whispered, " The 
Bottle Conjuror" is come again. But as all that is said for him 
is in a foud voice, and all against him in a low one, praise must go 
forth, and criticism be scarcely heard. Indeed, on returning to 
my seat, in the fifth act, I found he had great spirit, great fire 
in the impassioned scenes, which gave variety to his tones, and 
made me say, " This is a clever boy ;" and had I never seen 
boys act, I might have thought him extraordinary. Mrs. 
Inchbald? 

1 Mrs. Inchbald, though she commenced her career as an actress, is too 
completely identified with literature to find a place among actors. She was 






William Henry West Betty. 365 

Dressed as a slave, in white linen pantaloons, a short, close 
russet jacket trimmed with sable, and a turban hat or cap, at 
command of the tyrant on came the desire of all eyes, Master 
William Henry West Betty. With the sagacity of an old 
stager, I walked quietly into the house at the end of the first 
act, made my way into the lobby of the first circle, planted 
myself at the back of one of the boxes outside, and saw him 
make his bow, and never stirred till the curtain fell at the end 
of the play. I had a good glass, and saw him perfectly. He 
was a fair, pleasing youth, well formed, and remarkably 
graceful. The first thing that struck me was, that it was 
passion for the profession that had made him an actor. He 
was doing what he loved to do, and was putting his whole 
force into it. The next thing that I felt was, that he had 
amazing docility, and great aptitude at catching what he was 
taught ; he could convey passions which he had never felt, nor 
seen in operation but upon the stage; grace, energy, fire, 
vehemence, were his own ; the understanding was of a maturer 
brain. He seemed, however, to think all he said ; and had he 
been taught to pronounce with accuracy, there was nothing 
beyond his obvious requisites for the profession. Boaden* 

Betty had some fantastic notions in dress, which he indulged 
despite the remonstrances of his friends. One summer he 
sported a pair of indescribables made of children's map- 
pocket-handkerchiefs. Our readers may see the sort of things 
we mean maps of London and its environs, &c. marked 
up at haberdashers at a penny apiece. A gentleman suggested 
to the late young Roscius the singularity of such garments. 
" My good sir," replied Betty, " you don't perceive the con- 
venience and utility they are of ; for instance, as I am driving 
I may become doubtful as to my route ; under the gig-apron 
there I have all the information I want upon my thigh." This 
Betty called his map-ography. Records of a Veteran. 



bom in 1753. She was the intimate friend of the Kembles, and the pro- 
tegee of the younger Colman, who produced some of her early dramas. She 
is best known as the author of " The Simple Story." Boaden has written 
her life, and has made it perhaps the most uninteresting memoir that was 
ever penned. She died 1821, aged sixty-eight. ED. 

1 His first appearance at Covent Garden, where Boaden saw him, was 
December I, 1804. As early as one o'clock the people began to pour into 
the Piazzas and fill Bow Street. In the house was a large body of con- 
itables, and outside a strong detachment of the Guards. Thousands 



366 

William Charles Macready. 

1793- 

Macready's performance in Tell (in Knowles' "William 
Tell") is always first-rate. No actor ever affected me more 
than Macready did in some scenes of that play. S. 
Rogers. 

Macready was educated for the Church; but it was owing to 
Mrs. Siddons's suggestion that he embraced the stage. When 
the elder Macready was away at Newcastle his son was home 
for the holidays, and Mrs. Siddons was at that time on a 
starring visit to the North. The leading actor of the theatre 
not suiting the Queen of Tragedy, she requested the manager 
to allow his son to undertake the part of Biron in " Isabella." 
The anxious father was shocked at the request, and replied with 
dignity that he intended his son for the Church. " The 
Church !" exclaimed the great actress ; " have you any interest 
any patron ?" " None whatever," answered Macready senior. 
"Well, then, your son will live and die a curate on 5o/. or yo/. 
a year ; but if successful, the stage will bring a thousand a 
year." The wily manager took the hint allowed William to 
appear, and from that period he got advanced till, in 1817, he 
burst on a London public, where a fortune has crowned his 
efforts. This anecdote I had from the father of Brinley 
Richards, the composer. 1 Donaldson. 



pressed forward when the doors opened, and the house being immediately 
filled, the crowd made ineffectual efforts to press back. The shrieks and 
screams of the choking, trampled people were terrible. Fights for places 
grew ; the constables were beaten back ; the boxes were invaded ; the pit- 
way being narrow, many went round to the box-office, paid box-prices, and 
passed from the boxes into the pit. The heat was so fearful that men all 
but lifeless were lifted up and dragged through the boxes into the lobbies 
which had windows. This young Roscius is said to have drawn an average 
of 6507. a night to Drury Lane as Young Norval. At first he was paid 
5o/. a night, but in three nights this was raised to ioo/. ED. 

1 Richardson, the old showman, was always very proud of having num- 
bered Edmund Kean among his company. When Macready's name had 
become well known, Richardson was asked if he had ever seen him. 
"No, muster," he answered, "I knows nothing about him; in fact, he's 
some wagabone as nobody knows one of them chaps as ain't had any 
eddication for the thing. He never was with me, as Edmund Kean ana 
them riglars was. ' ED, 






William Charles Mac ready. 367 

V/licn Mr. Macready was a very young man, he adapted and 
compiled a drama from Walter Scott's " Rokeby," and played 
the character of Bertram A'isi/i^/uim in it himself. It must be 
one or two and twenty years since I saw him in this at Newcastle- 
upon-Tyne (his father being manager of the theatre), 
impression he then made on me I now vividly remember. 
The manner in which he executed the task of selecting portions 
of the poem and imitating Scott's style in the connecting lines, 
essentially necessary to form it into dialogue, impressed me 
with an opinion of Mr. M.'s literary powers. Records of a 
Sta^t' Veteran, 1836. 

! \\ the force of his own genius he has been step by step 
overcoming the reluctant prejudices of the critics. He has 
played Pierre, King John, Hastings, and the Stranger ; and last 
and finest of all, // \-rncr, in Lord Byron's play, adapted by him- 
self to the stage. His Pierre was occasionally too familiar, and 
now and then too loud ; but it had beauties of the highest 
order, of which I chiefly remember his passionate taunt of the 
gang of conspirators, and his silent reproach to Jaffier by 
holding up his manacled hands, and looking upon the poor traitor 
with steadfast sorrow. In King John there is a want of the 
amenity with which Kemble reconciled the weak and odious 
monarch to the nature which his actions outraged and his weak- 
ness degraded ; and some of the more declamatory speeches were 
given with a hurry which scarcely permitted them to be under- 
stood ; but the scene where he suggests to Hubert the murder 
of Arthur, and that of his own death, were more masterly ; the 
last, as a representation of death by poison, true, forcible, and 
terrific, yet without anything to disgust, is an extraordinary 
triumph of art His Hastings is only striking in One scene 
that where he is doomed to die, and utters forgiveness to his 
betrayer. Of his old parts none has been so perfect as the 
Stranger. Every look and tone is that of a man who fancies 
he hates mankind because his heart is overflowing with love 
which cannot be satisfied. Werner is represented by Mr. 
Macready as a man proud, voluptuous, and, above all, weak 
craving after the return of his fatherly love with more anxiety 
from his sense of inability to repose on his own character and 
resources, and vainly lavishing his fondness on a son whose 
stern, simple, unrelenting nature repels all his advances with 
dkdain. There is slender hint of this conception in the text ; 
but it is made out by the actor, so that it must stand dis- 



368 William Charles Macready. 

tinct and alone in the memories of all who may see it. 
Talfourd* 

Kean had a thorough contempt for Macready's acting ; and 
the latter, affecting to be indignant at the mode in which Mr. 
Kean had conducted himself (in always keeping a step or two 
behind him, whereby the spectator had a full view of the one 
performer's countenance, and only a side view of the other), 
bounced into my room, and at first vowed he would play with 
him no more. He finally wound up by saying, " And pray, 
what is the next p lay you ex pect me to appear in with 
that low man." I replied that I would send him word. I 
went up into Kean's dressing-room, where I found him scraping 
the colour off his face, and sustaining the operation by copious 
draughts of cold brandy-and-water. On my asking him what 
play he would next appear in with Macready, he ejaculated, 

" How the should I know what the fellow plays in !" 

Alfred Bunn, "The Stage," 6w. s 

His first appearance in London was a decided hit ; but the 
establishment of his fame and position on the London stage 
with such competitors as Kemble, Kean, and Young, was a 
long and arduous struggle, and for nearly ten years it had to be 
maintained before he could be said to be a great tragedian, worthy 
of representing the great Shakspearian tragic characters. The 



1 Talfourd was born 1795. His father was a brewer at Reading. At 
the age of eighteen he was sent to London to study law under Chitty, the 
pleader. He was called to the bar in 1821. In early life he was a 
voluminous contributor to the periodical literature of his day. Later he 
produced three dramas, of which "Ion" (1836) was the most esteemed. 
In 1849 he was appointed one of the Judges of the Court of Common 
Pleas. He was a man of unquestionable ability, reaching distinction in 
every walk he pursued the law, the senate, the drama ; for his virtues, 
his genial sympathies, and his uniform character, loved by his friends and 
esteemed by all who knew him. ED. 

2 Elliston's opinion of Macready, according to Alfred Bunn (about whom, 
if the reader desire information, he may turn to the early numbers of Punch) 
was not more flattering than Kean's. "Elliston," says Bunn, "had the 
proper worship for true genius, but the proper contempt for pseudo 
genius ; and he never gave better proof of his discernment than one evening 
when on entering the green-room, he was accosted in the most supercilious 
manner by a performer (Macready) dressed for the character of Rob Roy 
(a part which the histrio thought derogatory to his reputation, though it was 
the making of it) with, ' Pray, Mr. Elliston, when do we act Shakspear 
and he pithily replied to this very magnificent three-tailed Bashaw, ' 

)wu can f " 



William Charles Macready. 369 

highest place in tragedy was held for nearly a quarter of a 
century by Mr. Macready. This eminent actor studied for his 
profession, and considered that to be a great actor it uas 
advisable for him to become a good scholar, an accomplished 
gentleman, a well-ordered man, with a well-regulated mind and 
finely cultivated taste. Dr. Madden 's "Life of Lady Blcss- 



His successful impersonation of Richard III., and his 
masterly delineation of Virginius, at once determined his 
position as an actor of the first class second to none. All the 
parts in which I ever saw him, such as Orestes, Mirandola, 

ll'illiam Tell, Rob Roy, and Claude Mclnotte, he certainly had 
made his own. He was a man of more reading and cultivation 
than Young ; and while the latter amused himself in the 
hunting-field or the drawing-rooms of his aristocratic patrons, 
the former gave himself heart and soul to the study of his art, 
and greatly improved his powers by intellectual friction with 
such minds as those of Bulwer, Forster, Dickens, Knowles, 
and Albany Fonblanque. Moreover, he was what is 
called an original actor. Rev. J. Young, "Life of C. M. 

Young." 

I was at a dinner-party when Harley the actor told a good 
story of Macready in America. He was rehearsing Hamlet with 
a man who, in playing Guildenstern, continually (as bad actors 
are apt to do) pressed too near him. Remonstrances had no 
effect, and at length he came so very close that Macready said, 
" What, sir, you would not shake hands with Hamlet, would 
you ?" " I don't know," said the other ; " I do with my own 
President." Recollections of John Adolphus. 

Farewell, Macready, since to-night we part : 
Full-handed thunders often have confest 
Thy power well-used to move the public breast. 

We thank thee with one voice, and from the heart. 

Farewell, Macready, since this night we part. 

Go take thine honours home ; rank with the best ; 
Garrick, and statelier Kemble, and the rest, 

Who made a nation purer thro' their art 

Thine is it that the drama did not die, 
Nor flicker down to brainless pantomime, 
And those gilt gauds men-children swarm to see, 

Farewell, Macready; moral, grave, sublime, 
B B 



370 Miss Stephens. 

Our Shakspeare's bland and universal eye 

Dwells pleased, thro' twice a hundred years on thee. 

Alfred Tennyson. 

At a rehearsal of the banquet-scene in " Macbeth," ft\& First 
Murderer, in spite of Macready's adjurations, persisted in walk- 
ing down to the centre of the stage, and thereby entirely hiding 
Macbeth from the audience. The tragedian impatiently called 
for a carpenter, a brass-headed nail, and a hammer. The 
carpenter came. " Do you see that plank there. Drive the 
nail into that spot." It was done. " Now, you sir" (this to 
the Mvrdcrer\ " look at that nail. Come down to that spot, not 
an inch further and wait there till I come." Mr. Utility did as 
he was desired, and Macready's mind was easy. Night came, 
and with it the banquet-scene. The First Murderer enters, 
walks down the stage, stops suddenly, then turns round and 
round, apparently looking for something he had dropped. 
The audience began to titter. Macready stalks to the man's 
side: "In heaven's name, what are you about?" "Sure," 
exclaims the Murderer, " ain't I looking for that blessed nail of 
yours !" Chambers. 

Miss Stephens 1 (Countess of Essex). 
1794. 

Miss Stephens began her career early, but did not come pro- 
rr.inently forward till about 1812. She commenced her 
musical education under Lanza, who proceeded to form her 
voice with care, but also with the slow progression of the Italian 



1 In 1821 appeared Miss Wilson, who bid fair at the onset of her career 
to rival Miss Stephens. The following notice of her performance will 
illustrate the enthusiasm with which she was greeted : " She first per- 
formed Mandane in the noble opera of " Artaxerxes, " on Thursday, the 
i8th of January, a day which, on this account, will long be distinguished in 
the annals of music. Her voice is of great compass more complete per- 
haps in the higher than in the lower notes but admirable throughout the 
whole of its range. It has not that body and depth of sweetness which 
Miss Stephens pours forth in so rich and sustained a tide, but more of trick* 
some delicacy than hers. We have heard no one except Catalani who could 
ascend with so graceful an ease into the highest heaven of sound, and sport 
and revel at will in its liquid elements. The theatre, crowded to the roof, 
welcomed her with tremendous acclamations ; which evidently confused 
her at first, though her tremors did not prevent the audience from di 



, 



Jlliss Stephens. 371 

method. Subsequently she became the pupil of Welsh, who 
applied himself industriously to the task of fitting her for the 
.-Mid of bringing her out. Her round, full, rich, /tnvfy voice, 
her natural manner, her simple style, deformed by no sort of 
affectation, immediately won upon the public ; and both in the 
orchestra, the church, and the theatre, she became uni- 
versally admired. No female singer, perhaps, ever built so 
true an Kn-lish style on Italian rudiments. Her ballad singing 
was perfection. There was also high beauty and no slight 
polish in her concert and oratorio singing, and though the 
manner was anything but impassioned, it was sensible and 
graceful. Her purity rendered her performance the very 
model of what our nation terms " chaste singing." The 
regress (J Music. 

Miss Stephens is not at the head of a class ; but to my 
feelings entirely unlike all other singers. It was sixteen years 
last Twelfth-night since I heard her last, when the cur- 
tain of Covent Garden drew up on the opening scene of 
"Love in a Village," and discovered her sitting with Miss 
Matthews among the honeysuckles and roses to send forth a 
stream of such delicious sound as I had never fancied pro- 
ceeding from human lips. Since then how many lady-singers 
have flourished and faded and been forgotten ! Others there 
may be with a greater compass of voice, which I doubt not, 
or profounder musical science, as I am credibly informed, 
but never any one with tones so breathing of all womanly 
sweetness, and an absence of manner so irresistible. Except 
that Miss Stephens has become somewhat thinner in person, 
and that her voice is diminished in volume, I find no difference 
between her earlier and her present self. On the stage she 



covering extraordinary capabilities even in the charming duet of "Fan 
Aurora," with which the piece opens. Her "Fly, soft Ideas," gave full 
proof of her science and taste, as well as voice ; and her " Monster away," 
was admirably acted as well as sung. She was best, however, where the 
composer is best ; for her execution of " If e'er the cruel tyrant Love" was 
the most delicious of the whole. The " Soldier Tired," however, was he! 
greatest effort, and a greater of any kind we never witnessed. We usually 
consider this as a vulgar composition ; but, amidst its most difficult passages, 
she contrived to introduce infinite delicacies, which made the heart quiver 
with strange delight, and rendered the bravura almost as beautiful as it is 
amazing. The most wonderful exertions of Kean and Miss O'Neill nevei 
smote with more electric force on the audience, or drew from it more 
rapturous expressions of welcome." 

B B2 



372 Robert Keeley. 

looks no older, nor has her style acquired a particle of vulgarity 
or coarseness ; but the same unaffected simplicity, the same 
quiet pathos, the same graceful tenderness which enchanted 
me in the beginning of 1814, remain unharmed in 1830. Her 
Polly is only too interesting : it is so modest, affectionate, 
and feminine, that it turns the burlesque and the satire to 
"favour and to prettiness." Talfourd, 1830. 

With a voice of the loveliest kind for that is the epithet 
that best describes the analogy between the visual sensation of 
beauty of form, feature, and complexion, and the filling up of 
the sister sense of hearing by her full, round, pure, rich, and 
satiating tones "a sacred and homefelt delight," that belonged 
perhaps to her alone, and was in perfect accordance with 
English notions and English sensibilities, was experienced by 
the hearer. No one ever gratified the general public more 
than Miss Stephens, because she was natural, chaste, and 
faultless, though she aspired not to move the heart by those 
violences which constitute the excesses, and for that very 
reason the fascination of the voluptuousness of Italian art 
On Giving an Opera to the English, 1834. 

This most enchanting singer made her first appearance in the 
old, sweet part of Polly, in the " Beggars' Opera," and we thought 
never sang so well. The beautiful repose of her acting, the 
irresistible way in which she condescends to beseech support 
when she might extort reluctant wonder, and the graceful 
awkwardness and naivete of her manner, more captivating than 
the most finished elegance, complete the charm of her singing. 
The pathos of her " Can Love be controlled by advice ?" and 
" Oh, ponder well," the mingled science and sentiment of 
" Cease your funning," and the fine, bird-like triumph of " He 
so pleased me," are like nothing else to be heard on the stage, 
and leave all competition far behind. Lei^h Hunt. 

Robert Keeley. 
1794-1869. 

Chelmsford is decidedly the most theatrical town in England. 
Keeley was once unfortunate enough to go thither as a star ; the 
first night he acted to a select few, the sec.ond night the 
numbers were scantier than before, and on the third and last 
night, the auditors were few and far between. The last piece 



I 



Lucius y n n ins J>ni/iis Iwol/i. 373 

was " The Hundred-Pound Note," in which Keeley played the 
conundrum-making Billy Black. In the last scene he advanced 
to the lights, and said,"' I've one more, and this is a good un. 
' Why is the Chelmsford Theatre like a half-moon ? D'ye give 
it up ? Because it's ;/mr //////'" Records of a Sfage Veteran. 

This actor is the most genuine comedian who has made his 
appearance for years. His performances are finely executed 
little hits of the good old school of acting. In the farce of "The 
Duel," he plays a cockney tailor to the life, and almost rivals 
the famous Jerry Sneak of Russell. He shows all that can be 
done within the compass of his parts, and never attempts to go 
beyond them a very rare excellence in comedians of these 
days. Tii!fount. 

It would be difficult to name an actor, from the stage past or 
present, whose comic efforts are so natural and unstrained as 
those of Mr. Keeley. His touch is so easy that under it 
extravagance itself loses the air of unreality. He never 
grimaces, he never winks at the audience, he never takes any- 
body but himself into his confidence, yet what a never-tiring 
figure of fun he is ! how unconscious he seems of the laughter 
he provokes ! and what a solidity he appears to give to the most 
trivial expressions ! H. Morley. 

Lucius Junius Brutus Booth. 
1796-1852. 

In 1817 a trial was offered to Booth at Covent Garden, 
where he made his debut in Richard III. At the end of the 
tragedy there was a doubt whether it was a success or not ; 
and the manager being out of town, those acting as deputies 
had no power to treat with the actor. In this dilemma over- 
tures were made to Booth to essay his abilities at Drury Lane 
in the part of logo. This offer was accepted, and he made his 
appearance in the tragedy of " Othello " to a densely filled 
theatre. Kean was the Moor; but at the commencement 
strangers were in doubt who was Kean or who was Booth, 
there was such a similarity between the rivals. But as the 
tragedy progressed to the third act all doubt fled, and Kean 
displayed such acting as not only electrified the young, but the 
oldest critics pronounced it beyond all precedent. Booth dis- 
covered that he had made a false move in placing himself in 



3/4 Lucius Junius Brutzis Bootn. 

collision with the man he imitated, and the day after his trial 
at old Drury, he signed articles to return to Covent Garden for 
three years. He proved an attraction at the national theatre ; 
and when Lear was revived, his performance of the aged king 
met with universal approbation. As a proof that Booth was 
an actor of unquestionable talent in Lear, he had Charles 
Kemble as Edgar, and Macready as Edmund, and still threw 
both into the shade. At the end of his engagement, finding he 
was incapable of equalling Kean, he set sail for America. 
Recollections of an Actor. 

Mr. Booth, who some years ago emerged from the lowest 
class of actors into short notoriety, has visited again the boards 
of this theatre, apparently in the hope of supplying the place of 
Mr. Kean, whom he is by many supposed to resemble. If he 
left his Transatlantic retreat with this expectation, we fear he has 
been bitterly disappointed, for his engagement was limited to 
three nights, and its success was not such as to command an 
extension of its term. His likeness to Kean consists chiefly in 
defects of person and voice ; for while we are obliged to deny 
him any large participation in the intensity and occasional 
delicacies of that ill-used person, we fully acquit him of the 
servile imitation with which he has been charged. Mr. Booth 
is unquestionably a clever man, and might, notwithstanding the 
absence of dignified figure and flexibility of countenance, have 
become a first-rate actor, if circumstances had not contributed 
to spoil him. There is nothing more decidedly calculated to 
prevent a young man of talent from becoming a true artist than 
the excitement produced by premature elevation and hostility, 
which at once give him an overweening notion of his present 
acquirements, and render him impatient of just and friendly 
criticism. We are sorry for Mr. Booth, who might have been 
a good, but is now only a provoking actor. When you have 
waited through whole acts for a gleam of sense and feeling 
in vain, and have wondered at the uncouthness of his manner 
and the poverty of his style, he will break out like one inspired, 
and play a scene with masterly intelligence and vigour. The 
three parts which he acted, Jnnins Brutus, Richard, and Othello, 
were generally tame or declamatory; and yet in each there 
were passages of great merit the parting with Titus in the first, 
which was at once dignified and pathetic ; the tent scene in the 
second, which was highly picturesque and impassioned ; and 
the chief scene in the third act of the last, in which the work- 






John Henry Alexander. 375 

ings of suspicion and the returns of love were discriminated 
with judgment and portrayed with energy these snatches ol 
excellence, while they raise an actor far above contempt, can 
never ensure him a high place on the London boards ; nor 
ought they, for surely the first audience in Europe have a 
right to expect that those who ask for their approbation should 
take some pains to deserve it. New Monthly Magazine, 1826. 

John Henry Alexander. 
1796-1851. 

John Henry Alexander was born at Dunbar in July, 1796, 
of obscure but respectable parents. His boyhood was 
distinguished by the same resolute and persevering qualities 
that characterized his riper years. Early exhibiting great 
powers of memory, possessing a good voice and a handsome 
person, he was finally, after many amateur performances, 
launched upon the stage under the auspices of the celebrated 
Harry Johnstone, and made his first appearance as a legitimate 
member of the profession at Ayr. His personal advantages 
and great industry soon made him a favourite, and after a short 
but successful season he was engaged for the Queen's Theatre 
at Glasgow, then under the management of the elder Macready, 
father of the present eminent tragedian of that name. From 
thence he proceeded to Newcastle, where he had an opportunity 
of performing with the celebrated Mrs. Jordan. His reputation 
attracted at this time the attention of Mr. W. H. Murray, of 
Edinburgh, with whom he shortly after contracted an engage- 
ment Mr. Alexander was only twenty years of age when he 
Decame a member of the theatrical company at Edinburgh. 
The characters in which he excelled at that time were Dandle 
Dinmont in " Guy Mannering," and Ratdiffe in " The Heart of 
Midlothian." His powerful mind, free from the cares of 
management, enabled him to perform an extensive range of 
characters with great ability, but what contributed as much as 
any other element to his success, was an excellent taste in 
dress, and invariable correctness in reading. In the year 1822 
Mr. Alexander commenced his character as a Glasgow manager 
in Dunlop Street. During the following seven years he carried 
on, through every kind of opposition, not only the Glasgow 
house, but also the provincial theatres at Carlisle and Dumfries, 



3 76 Miss Maria Foote. 

along with the Adelphi at Edinburgh. In 1829 he became the 
possessor of the patent for Glasgow, built a magnificent theatre, 
and continued from that period until within a few months of 
his death a course of profitable management, which enabled 
him to leave his family in a position of comparative affluence. 
Peter Pater son > 1864. 

Miss Maria Foote '(Countess of Harrington). 
1798-1867. 

There is no female on the stage who is capable of filling her 
proper line of character with so much grace, propriety, and 
nature. At her first appearance she manifested a desire of 
stepping into a bolder line of comedy than that which she had 
before adorned, and played Letitia Hardy in the " Belle's 
Stratagem." She performed the character very well, and 
gave more of Miss Hardy than her warmest admirers 
ventured to anticipate. She has not, however, animation, 
humour, or versatility sufficient to hit off in triumphant style 
the wayward fair, who is first to disgust her lover by the 
affectation of folly, and then to captivate him in disguise by 
her wit and voice. In truth she can do neither, for she 
cannot be awkward or vulgar even if she would, and though 
she might captivate any man at a single interview, she would 
hardly succeed in a mask. Yet nothing could be more 
charming than her na'ivete in the scene where she ought to 
play the fool ; her movements were grace itself, and her 
song beginning " Where are you going, my pretty maid ?" 
was given with an arch simplicity entirely her own. The line, 
" My face is my fortune, sir, she said," which was warbled out 
with a very pretty consciousness, has, in all the representations 
of the past, been hailed with applause of which the meaning 
cannot be mistaken. Talfonrd. 

We can scarcely believe that the beautiful vision has passed 
away from our sight for ever. Will she no more cling so 
tenderly about Virginius, the living image of all that is daughterly 
and gentle ?. Shall we not see her again bend silently before 
the accusations of Guido, like a fair flower stooping beneath 
the rough blast, with which contention would be vain ? Is 
comedy entirely to lose the most delicate and graceful of its 
handmaidens, and tragedy the loveliest of its sufferers? If so, 



Paul Bedford. 377 

she takes with her the best of our parting greetings on the 
journey of life, as her beauty has shone in on the weariness of 
ours. Jiy retiring she at least gains a duration of youth and 
loveliness in the minds of those who have seen her, lasting as 
their memory. In return for those images of pure and innocent 
beauty with which she has enriched our imaginations, we wish 
her all the good which should attend one of nature's choicest 
favourites. H. Smith. 

Tyrone Power 
1798-1841. 

The walking gentleman of Drury Lane, Barnard, having 
been lodged in the King's Bench, on suspicion of debt, t\vo 
candidates stood forward for his situation in the theatre ; 
and these were Tyrone Power and a young tragic hero, 
Hamblin. Although the salary for the position was only 3/. 
per week, and the characters trifling, yet Power was rejected 
and Hamblin accepted. This was in 1818. Sixteen years 
after this, Tyrone commanded at the Haymarket the highest 
salary ever given to a comedian, 150?. per week. W. 
Donaldson. 

This actor, if not the richest, is to my taste the most agree- 
able of stage Irishmen. He does not surfeit us with a 
musical brogue as Johnstone did, but buzzes about the verge 
of vulgarity and skims the surface of impudence with a light 
wing and a, decent consideration for fastidious nerves. 
Tcilfourd. 

Paul Bedford. 
1798-1869. 

There is a fine rollicking heartiness in the man's style